Jazz writer, critic and fellow tenor player Dave Gelly described Scott Hamilton this way: “A Scott Hamilton solo is like listening to a great conversationalist in full flow.” That a musician is heard and imagined as a conversationalist says a lot about the art of music performance and even more about the performer’s place within interpretation, creation, and expression. Music is a language; it tells and engages, and it elicits reaction.
Hamilton’s sound refreshes standards and familiar melody. Like the conversationalist, he puts things just a little differently to give them new life, and to enhance and renew interest. The expressions are of new ideas and bright points of new leases. For Hamilton, it is the grounding of the wit and charm, accessibility, and beauty of the nuances of the definitive flavouring of the Great American Songbook. That music that collectively tells a story from many.
Hamilton’s skill and foundation has especially been in his reinterpretations of that collection. The style is classic with a contemporary ear, a wink, and a nod. This quote by writer Jon W. Poses may sum up the Hamilton way beautifully — and it doesn’t hurt that it sounds delicious at the same time: “Like spreading butter and strawberry jam on hot toast, you know what it is, you know you will like it.”