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Scott Hamilton Quartet: Live in London

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The stylistically eclectic tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, whose playing reflects the inspiration of such swing tenorists as Ben Webster and Illinois Jacquet as well as of Lester Young disciples like Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, blows up a storm on his new album. Recording before a live audience at London’s Pizza Express jazz club and accompanied by a superb English rhythm section of John Pearce on piano, Dave Green on bass and Steve Brown on drums, Hamilton presents a flawless set of straightahead playing.

He opens with Tadd Dameron’s quick blues “The Squirrel” and ends with “The Goof and I,” Al Cohn’s blistering line on the “I Got Rhythm” changes. In between are the fulsome romanticism of the ballads “When I Fall in Love” and “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the infectious drive of the medium tempo “When Your Lover Has Gone” and “Easter Parade” and the boppish sprightliness of “Licks,” bassist Green’s tribute to Oscar Pettiford.

This time around the tenorist stays mostly in a Zootish mode, although his sensitive low-register work on “When I Fall in Love” sometimes evokes Webster’s ballad manner, and his occasional jump tenor phrasing on the final track conjures up Jacquet’s boisterous JATP approach. Not only does the rhythm section keep impeccable time, but its individual players improvise at a consistently lofty level, with Pearce and Green both revealing extraordinary technical prowess and melodic imagination.