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Talk to me baby


Back in 1977 when Scott Hamilton first burst upon the jazz scene, small group swing was in danger of becoming extinct. Swing was associated with World War II. big band nostalgia and most young jazz-oriented musicians were more interested in playing fusion, avant-garde explorations, or soul jazz. Hamilton’s appearance on the scene as a tenor-saxophonist in his early twenties with a large personal tone, a swinging melodic style, a love for vintage standards, and impeccable musicianship inspired generations of up-and-coming players to explore the songs and styles of the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
Even after 45 years, Scott Hamilton has never strayed far from his original goal of playing good tunes with compatible rhythm sections. His tone and ideas are as fresh as ever and his playing remains very much in its prime.
Hamilton had previously recorded no less than five albums with the rhythm section of pianist Dena DeRose, bassist Ignasi González, and drummer Jo Krause for the Blau label: La Rosita, The Shadow Of Your Smile (both from Dec. 7, 2015), Moon Mist (Oct. 12, 2017), Street Of Dreams (Mar. 23, 2019), and Two For The Road (July 5, 2021). Dena DeRose, who is also an excellent singer, displays her own fresh chord voicings on the piano and is masterful at creating her musical message during concise solos. Ignasi Gonzalez has been a regular on the Blau label since 2010 (recording with saxophonists Toni Sola and Dmitry Baevsky, trumpeter Valery Ponomarev and pianist-singer Champian Fulton) while Jo Krause also recorded for Blau with Benny Golson. One can understand why Hamilton enjoys playing with this trio for the musicians are supportive, swinging, and tastefully inventive.

During the relaxed set, Hamilton explores and uplifts eight superior standards. In-depth analysis is certainly not needed to enjoy these performances. Just to mention a few highlights, two obscurities (Johnny Mercer’s “Talk To Me Baby” which Frank Sinatra recorded and Al Cohn’s “The Underdog”) get welcome revivals, there are definitive versions of the quietly emotional ballads “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” and “All My Tomorrows,” “Someone To Light My Life” is joyous,, and “I Remember You” receives a lengthy and relatively heated exploration.
Suffice it to say, throughout Talk To Me Baby, Scott Hamilton plays as beautifully as ever.
Scott Yanow, jazz critic/historian and author of 12 books including Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist