Scott Hamilton: Young and Foolish

Scott Hamilton emerged in the 1970s as a polished mainstream pre-bopper at a time when most players of his generation were exploring hard- and post-bop, fusion, or free jazz. He has been a consistently tasteful saxophonist ever since, with a style that contains elements of Zoot Sims, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Don Byas and, as evident on this track, Stan Getz. Never an innovator, never very adventurous, Hamilton can frustrate those who wish he would let loose a little more, especially when he unexpectedly veers towards more modern (for him) boppish phrasings. Since he's an authoritative and moving ballad player, his With Strings CD, especially thanks to Alan Broadbent's lush arrangements, stands out for the grace and clarity of his theme readings and improvisations.

If Hamilton's interpretation of "Young and Foolish" doesn't grab you, then none of his work ever will. Broadbent's enchanting string writing for the opening verse has the flavor and impact of a memorable movie theme, perfectly setting up Hamilton's purring articulation of the poignant melody, with shades of Webster's breathy vibrato peeking out at times. Hamilton's solo is most often remindful of Getz, especially in his hurtling runs, phrase construction, and occasional rasps that supplant his primarily lustrous tone. Overall, a solo that is sensitively conceived and detailed, and totally absorbing. The finale is an exquisitely realized dual coda for strings and then sax.

January 06, 2009 · 0 comments


Tony Bennett & Bill Evans: Young and Foolish

With the passing of time, this recording has taken on the luster of a classic. But when the collaboration between Bennett and Evans first took place in the mid-1970s, both artists were at a low ebb. A few years earlier, Evans and Bennett were on the roster of the preeminent Columbia label—Tony for a long period and Evans just for a couple projects—before being discarded by label execs in the youth-oriented spirit of the times. Few people paid much attention when this LP was released; it wasn't seen as a meeting of the masters, just another sign that down-and-out artists had to join together to add to their declining drawing power.

But time has a way of improving our vision. Bennett is now a lauded elder statesman of the entertainment industry and Evans a jazz legend from the past, and—as the old saying goes—they made beautiful music together. Evans had recorded "Young and Foolish" before, back in 1958, in a meditative trio performance with Sam Jones and Philly Joe Jones, and did more than anyone to establish this song (from the musical Plain and Fancy) as a jazz standard. Bennett sings with his heart on his sleeve, and entices Evans into one of his more emotionally sustained performances from this later period in his career. If someone asked me to pick a jazz performance that completely realized the sensibility established by the lyrics of the song, this would be one of the first tracks I would select.

January 20, 2008 · 0 comments


Bill Evans: Young and Foolish

At largo pace, with minimal flourish and maximal feeling, Bill Evans transforms a 1955 Broadway show tune into a deeply moving experience, quite unlike the florid, superficial prettiness of conventional jazz piano balladry. Evans strips the melody of unnecessary decoration, introduces delicate harmonic hues derived from Chopin, Debussy and Satie, and allows his piano to sing. This gets our vote for Most Beautiful Modern Jazz Piano Performance of All Time. As Miles Davis, who seldom had a good word to say about anyone, allowed of Evans in a cover testimonial: "He plays the piano the way it should be played.

October 25, 2007 · 0 comments


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