From Noted Jazz Producer, Author, Historian and Critic Scott Yanow:
“Duke Robillard originally became well-known as the founder and leader of Roomful Of Blues (1967-79), his playing with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and his many projects in the blues world, but he has always had a love for swinging jazz. A friend of tenor-saxophonist Scott Hamilton since their early days, Robillard and Hamilton have often teamed up for memorable recordings. Their latest musical collaboration, Swingin’ Again, is being released by the Blue Duchess label and is arguably their finest joint effort.
Swingin’ Again has the two longtime associates joined by members of Duke Robillard’s band (pianist Bruce Bears, bassist Brad Hallen, and drummer Mark Teixeira) plus several notable guests: trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso, pianist Tim Ray, and singers Sugar Ray Norica and Sunny Crownover. The results are as exciting and enjoyable as one would expect from these talented and versatile musicians.
Starting with “I Never Knew,” the program includes such classic standards as “I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket” (taken as a ballad by Sugar Eye Norica before it becomes a cooker), “All I Do Is Dream Of You,” “Blue Lou,” “Pennies From Heaven,” and “You Can Depend On Me” (during which Norica recalls Jimmy Rushing). Also included is the obscure swinger “Never Mind,” the medium-tempo blues “Steady Daddy” (sung winningly by Sunny Crownover), an infectious “Esquire Bounce,” and “One O’Clock Jump.”
Robillard’s 1940s/’50s style swing guitar (inspired by Charlie Christian, Tiny Grimes, and other pacesetters of the era) is a perfect match for Hamilton’s warm and distinctive tenor on the vintage material. Pianist Bears makes the most of his solo space, and fine support is supplied throughout by Hallen and Teixeira.
Duke Robillard and Scott Hamilton often listened to recordings and jammed together in their early days in Rhode Island. Hamilton moved to New York in the mid-1970s where his mastery of swinging jazz made headlines. He was the first young world-class jazz artist in years to play early straight ahead jazz rather than fusion, avant-garde or bebop, and his arrival on the scene virtually launched the comeback of small group swing. Hamilton has been featured on dozens of rewarding albums since then.
Duke Robillard’s success with Roomful Of Blues, Bob Dylan, and on nearly 100 CDs made him a major name in the blues world but he was always eager to team up with his boyhood friend in swing settings. The guitarist was part of Hamilton’s Blues, Bop And Ballads (1999), Across The Tracks (2007), and Remembering Billie (2012) albums, while the tenor is on Robillard’s Swing (1986) and A Swinging Session (2008). Musical magic always occurs when they play together.
Swingin’ Again is certainly a very easy set to enjoy. It will appeal to Duke Robillard’s longtime fans (including those who loved his recordings with the late Jay Geils and Gerry Beaudoin in the New Guitar Summit) and listeners who treasure Scott Hamilton’s playing.”
From noted Jazz Producer, Author and Historian Bob Porter:
“The music here seems perfectly chosen. Swingin’ Again seems to tell the whole story in it’s title. We the listeners can only be grateful. Tell your friends.”
Mainstream Jazz tenor saxophone icon Scott Hamilton joined Blue Duchess Records with a lot of jazz history: he has played to critical acclaim through a career that included stints with Roy Eldridge, Benny Goodman, Rosemary Clooney and a guest spot on Bing Crosby’s last album. Leading his own band, Scott has produced dozens of highly rated jazz albums over the years for Concord Records.
Scott Hamilton’s premiere release on Blue Duchess Records, ”Remembering Billie,” presents an instrumental demonstration of the beauty of Billie Holiday’s songs. “Remembering Billie,” conceived by Scott, working closely with producer Duke Robillard, is widely regarded as a masterwork tribute that displays the best of Scott Hamilton’s work.
“Scott Hamilton ..He swings, he’s always in the pocket and he doesn’t need/have to prove anything. If you want to listen to some sweet jazz that’s played for the sheer joy of it, you and this set are going to get along just fine. Killer stuff that gives mainstream jazz a good name no matter how much dirt hipsters try to kick at it.”
“Remembering Billie,” is something of a magnum opus, from an artist who is at a place in his illustrious career where a magnum opus is just what is needed to top so many previous glorious albums. This tribute to the early, more freely swinging recordings of the inimitable Billie Holiday, is played with equally matchless style by saxophonist Scott Hamilton. The album, produced by Duke Robillard, displays the versatility and impeccable taste that Hamilton has been sharing for decades.”
“Give a listen to Remembering Billie and you will hear one of the best of the players in this tradition, the aforementioned Mr. Hamilton. Hamilton can caress a ballad and swing his forever off with the best of them. Producer Duke Robillard contributes his guitar mastery. Put it all together and the result is pure listening pleasure”
-New Jersey Jazz
“It’s his first effort for Duke Robillard’s Blue Duchess Records it’s a splendid effort that captures the 58-year-old Hamilton in prime, relaxed form, reminding those who need to be reminded that few tenor players swing with his consummate ease, or cut to the emotional heart of a song as consistently”
“With Hamilton blowing it hot, cool and sweet, the listener is in for a rare musical Holiday that expertly recalls Lady Day’s way with a song.”
– The Virginian-Pilot
Scott Hamilton’s critically acclaimed classic, “Remembering Billie.” is available on CD and in 180 gram vinyl, which brings the listener the full 24 bit recording. The limited edition vinyl pressing of “Remembering Billie” includes a download card with all of the tracks on the CD.”
Scott Hamilton Plays Jule Styne
Sax legend Scott Hamilton’s second CD for Blue Duchess Records is a stunning tribute to the music of Jule Styne. Produced by award winning guitarist and producer Duke Robillard, the CD includes both well and lesser known Styne compositions. It has been repeatedly described as “breathtaking.”
From Broadway World Music Editor Pat Cerasaro:
“Scott, and his all star lineup, are all in fine form. Only Gene Ammon’s version of “The Party’s Over” can give Scott a run for the money on this one. And Scott’s rendition of “People” brings tears to the eyes of a listener who thought he never wanted to hear this song again. Again and again here Mr. Hamilton proves he’s the top dog at swinging these classics the way no one else can.
Ravishing ballads and swinging fresh impressions of classics a the game here, and what a beautiful game it is! Scott Hamilton performs nine of Jule Styne’s finest songs in this joyful and spirited exploration of Styne’s music, under the direction of producer Duke Robillard. Scott is joined by the same rhythm section that swung with him on his prior Blue Duchess release “Remembering Billie”: pianist Tim Ray (whose diverse career includes tours with Lyle Lovett and associations with a vast array of artists that range from Aretha Franklin, Dave Douglas and Phil Woods to Esperanza Spalding and the Boston Pops), bassist Dave Zinno and drummer Jim Gwin. Guitarist Fred Bates guests “Sunday”. The rhythm section gives Hamilton stimulating support and occasional solos that uplift the music.
While many of the vintage songwriters were not always pleased with some of the treatments that their songs received by jazz artists, Jule Styne would have loved Scott Hamilton’s CD. The great tenor caresses the melodies, builds his solos from the themes, and plays with warmth and subtle creativity, perfectly placing his notes. He picks the perfect tempos for these songs, whether it is hard-swinging versions of “Bye Bye Love” and “Sunday” or a beautiful ballad version of “All The Way.” It is particularly nice to have the superior “You Say You Care” getting a rare revival.”
– Pat Cerasaro, editor, Broadway World Music