Scott Hamilton Quartet: At PizzaExpress Live In London

Twenty years after recording for Concord at the Pizza Express, Scott Hamilton returned with the same trio to launch the club's own label

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It’s half  a century now since Concord Records promoted Scott Hamilton as a rising young star, already blowing stylish classic mainstream tenor. A non-stop flow of world-wide engagements have followed since at clubs, festivals, concerts and recordings, bringing deserved international recognition as a major artist.

Given six decades of bookings at the club, Scott probably holds a loyalty card at the Dean Street Pizza Express. Twenty years before this session, he had recorded for Concord at Pizza with exactly the same UK-based band. On this CD he was invited back specifically to launch the club’s new record label.

Latin jazz is prominently featured in The Breeze And I, Poinciana and the familiar bossa-nova standard The Girl From Ipanema. The tenor’s warm, mellow tone coaxes out their full melodic appeal with relaxed ease, enhanced with tastefully phrased, creative ideas which never sound forced or contrived. Black Velvet is a loping, bluesy ballad by Illinois Jaquet. Dizzy Gillespie’s riffy Blue ’n’ Boogie, at bright medium tempo, takes a welcome step into blues territory, giving the excellent rhythm team space to stretch out.

John Pearce’s elegant piano swings stylishly, his briskly probing runs teasing out interesting ideas. Dave Green, here and throughout the session, impresses with his plangent rounded tone, rock-steady rhythmic momentum and dynamic phrasing. Steve Brown’s drums, tightly swinging, respond tastefully and attentively, underpinning the assured balance and rapport of the rhythm team. After the slow ballad Pure Imagination, a feature for Scott, the group rides out in a more upbeat style with a fine arrangement of The Summer Wind.

Hamilton’s seasoned artistic maturity and the sheer quality of his improvisation are unmistakable in these very enjoyable recordings. A first-class release, featuring a current maestro of classic mainstream tenor.

Discography
(1) The Breeze And I; Black Velvet; Poinciana; Blue ’n’ Boogie; The Girl From Ipanema; Pure Imagination; The Summer Wind (63.38)
Hamilton (ts); John Pearce (p); Dave Green (b); Steve Brown (d). Pizza Express, Dean St, London, 15-16 April 2022.
PX Records PXRCD 1001