In the fourth decade of a jazz career in which he has always made a subtle art sound easy, US saxophonist still caresses old standards with the same urbane ecstasy he always has. In its hip-hop or contemporary-classical borrowings, free-improv extremes or north European minimalist whisperings, jazz is now a very different music to the sleek, swinging one Hamilton absorbed from his dad’s records as a boy. But nobody can accuse Hamilton of living in the past: it would be like telling someone they shouldn’t still be in love with a fascinating old partner.
Tenor Scott Hamilton hit the scene on the 70s, playing in the classic style of Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. In 1977, he recorded his debut album for Concord Records, with whom he would have a long recording career. Hamilton formed his own quintet in the early 1980s and developed a style that was very much his own. Backed by Rossano Sportiello on piano, Hassan Shakur on bass and Chuck Riggs on drums, this set from Smalls Live is one of Hamilton's best.
Guitarist Chris Flory was there in the ‘70s as one of the young musicians playing mainstream swing and, as part of that generation, he has kept the legacy of mainstream swing guitar alive while simply playing in his own musical personality. One of the top straight ahead guitarists of the past 35 years, throughout this CD, in this reunion with Scott Hamilton, Chris Flory brings out the best in Scott and vice versa, making this disc one of the high points of their recent careers. (Scott Yanow)