Scott Hamilton Quartet

Friday 13 Jan 2023

Great Scott and a Great Trio - what a treat!

These four superlative musicians have been playing together whenever Scott comes to the UK (and sometimes in Europe, in the past) for 23 years and since 1987 if you allow for Steve’s predecessor!

It’s no wonder that their playing is so intuitive and that this enables them to be easily and delightfully inventive. There’s no staleness or stodginess or standardization and certainly no set list.

They began with “Will You Still Be Mine” which included the first of several sparkling piano solos from John - whose style I really like - and some dextrous drumming from Steve, switching between sticks, brushes and hands – an approach that he employed, to excellent effect, on several subsequent numbers, especially behind Dave’s melodic solos.

Johnny Mercer’s “Talk to Me Baby, Tell Me Lies” gave Scott the opportunity to begin in a delightfully easy, relaxed style before upping the tempo. “Poinciana”, given its distinctive rhythmic treatment by Steve, showed how imaginatively Scott can interpret a tune, how precise but fluid John’s playing is and benefited from a strong solo from Dave. The near-capacity audience gave this the first of several of the evening’s rapturous receptions.

An unnamed ‘gospelish’ blues followed with a marching rhythm and some stirring soloing and then we had the ballad “Pure Imagination”, with Scott playing in a reflective style, before the first set ended with Thad Jones’s “Lady Luck”.

Scott assured the audience, quite unnecessarily of course, that there was no reason to go home yet because they would be back with another set shortly!

A rewarding feature of this quartet’s approach is the length of time they give to each number, with solos being just as long as each musician feels appropriate.

“You Are My Heart’s Delight”, the UK title of a piece based on a Franz Lehar tune, opened the second set and provided some humorous interplay between the four. Classical music provided a second number, “The Lamp is Low” with its foundation (Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess”) which was given a bossa nova treatment after a solo introduction by Scott and an ending which seemed as though he wanted to keep the trio guessing about when it would happen! Steve didn’t just alternate between techniques on this one he used a brush on the snare and a finger on the rim simultaneously!

“The Man I Love” was a little more conventional and included a piano solo that drew loud applause and a very subtle solo from Steve in which he used only brushes! Scott’s treatment of this tune emphasised the individuality he can bring to his interpretations. A splendid “Tin Tin Dao” followed with another sparkling solo from John before we reached the longest-titled tune of the evening “Tonight I Shall Sleep With a Smile on My Face” (Ellington), a suitably peaceful and elegiac ballad which finished in a profoundly skilled whisper.

We thought the cheerful “Sonny” was the last tune of the night, but the applause from the audience was, deservedly, so loud and prolonged that Scott and John came back for Scott to give us a virtuoso “Tenderly” encore.


Photos from the event

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