Scott Hamilton: Classics review – a swinging jazz makeover for Dvořak, Ravel and more

The veteran US tenor saxophonist, pianist Jan Lundgren and co transform a selection of popular classical tunes

To audiences around the world, Scott Hamilton’s tenor saxophone represents the timeless essence of jazz itself. He creates fresh, swinging solos from songs old and new, jazz favourites and blues, never showing signs of running short of ideas. He made his first recording in 1976, in New York, aged 22. He is now approaching 68, with a back catalogue so enormous I doubt whether even he could remember how many albums he has made. But I know this one was recorded late last year, in Gothenburg, with a trio led by the great Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren.

When he and Hamilton get together, they seem to make a point of picking new or unusual material. The idea this time was to adapt the themes from popular pieces of classical music. There are nine tracks, and Franz Lehár’s Yours Is My Heart Alone is the best and longest: glorious solos from Hamilton, Lundgren and bassist Hans Backenroth; sharp exchanges towards the end between Hamilton and drummer Kristian Leth. Dvořak’s Humoresque is excellent, too, and so is The Lamp Is Low (Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte), although perhaps there are rather too many slow numbers.

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