REVIEW: Scott Hamilton Quartet in Certaldo (Italy)

Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton Quartet
(Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo Alto. Jazz in the Castle at the Global Music Foundation, 5th August 2015. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton is in demand all over the world. His well-honed craft is familiar from the forty-odd albums he has made, but a gig in the walled medieval town of Certaldo Alto where he now chooses to make his home seemed to give his playing additional ease and assurance. Someone had inexplicably brought a yapping dog to the concert – they soon thought better of the idea – but even that just raised a disarming, amused chuckle from Hamilton. His playing throughout the long set was remarkable not just for its elegance and conciseness, and the glorious rich tone, but also for the masterful way in which he leaves silences.

The quartet’s set opened out gently, like a flower, until The Way You Look Tonight, where an extra injection of pace and energy also brought out some playful experimentations with song form. Hamilton ended a solo at a point where he could encourage an exchange of eight-bar phrases with the guitarist Sandro Gibellini, then – later – rather than trading fours with the drummer Alfred Kramer, traded twos, following with a wry comment of the value of having rehearsed – a very long time ago.

In guitarist Sandro Gibellini, bassist Arnie Somogyi and drummer Alfred Kramer he had supportive, conducive company. Gibellini is a guitarist with a delightful sound on a classic Gibson archtop, a wonderful melodic and counter-melodic sense, and a way of balancing voices that recalled Tal Farlow.  Kramer is a sensitive drummer with a capacity to disappear almost below the radar when required in a bass solo, but also to be subtly assertive, and to use the contrasting lower sounds of tom and bass drum to fine effect. Arnie Somogyi slotted into their company well, and also subtly adjusted his volume and sound to suit the shifting mood of the set    

L-R Sandro Gibellini, Arnie Somogyi, Scott Hamilton, Alfred Kramer

There has been a castle on the site in Certaldo Alto where this concert was held since the 1160’s. From its courtyard, open to the stars, one looks on to mid-fifteenth century buildings. On that time-scale, the period of four decades that has  elapsed since the first emergence of “neo-classical” Lester Young-inspired tenor Scott Hamilton in New York might seem like the blink of an eye, but his authority and his authenticity are beyond doubt.


When You’re Smiling (Shay/Fisher/Goodwin)
Alone Together (Schwartz)
The Way You Look Tonight (Kern)
Girl From Ipanema (Jobim)
Come Rain or Come Shine
The Shadow of Your Smile (Mandel)
Blue Caper (David “Fathead” Newman)
Encore: One Note Samba (Jobim)

Concerts continue at the same location until August 10th . DETAILS

A recording of most of this quartet, entitled “Scott Hamilton”, with Sandro Gibellini, Aldo Zunino and Alfred Kramer was made in 2009, re-issued by Hotel il Castello, Certaldo, is listed HERE. Sebastian is the guest in Certaldo of the Global Music Foundation

Categories: miscellaneous

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