As pianist Jan Lundgren avers in this CD's liner notes, there's "a timeless quality to many of the songs we today call standards", but I'd add a second observation: they all become kindred, no matter from whence they issue, when spoken in the language of jazz, as the opening cut here, Dear Old Stockholm, clearly and unambiguously demonstrates. It's a Swedish traditional, but had I played it sight unseen and told you I'd culled it from a Paul Desmond LP, a track the imperishable Dez had penned, you'd not doubt me for a second, especially not with the way saxist Scott Hamilton tackles it, with a smooth mellow Romantic tone for a good long soul-satisfying 10 minutes.
In the quartet, Lundgren's of course Hamilton's counterpoint, comping cleverly before stepping out for his solos, keeping the atmosphere bright and unoccluded, his lithe chords dancing all around the sax's fulsome elegance, his lead spots as nimble as a squirrel in green arbors. When the two join together to quote the melodics, the harmony is sparkling. Jesper Lundgard plunks an adept acoustic bass, elastic and expansive when called for but hoppin' and boppin' otherwise, joyous in cuts like Swing in F. Kristian Leth mans the far background, often in brushes and cymbal work, until it's time to take off the gloves and throw a few punches.
Hamilton has known and played for and with giants—Ruby Braff, Lou Donaldson, Teddy Wilson, Rosemary Clooney, etc.—and his sound is well honed, dipped in honey and brandy, but that doesn't mean he lacks for spunk and brio. As you might guess, Swing in F shows those qualities quite nicely too, but comparisons to Desmond—but also Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Dexter Gordon—are inevitable due to the dulcet perfection of his notes and phrasing. Swedish Ballads…& More is clearly a time machine back to earlier days and more refined ways but also raises a question: how much more of this great provincial material remains yet unexposed to the rest of the world. My guess? Lots, and I rub my hands, smiling in anticipation of what's yet to come.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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