Scott Hamilton – Swedish Ballads & More – Charleston Square Recordings CSR-421-2, 52:05 ****:

(Scott Hamilton – tenor saxophone; Jan Lundgren – piano; Jesper Lundgaard – bass; Kristian Leth – drums)

Carl Jefferson, the late Founder and President of Concord Records, said the following about Scott Hamilton in 1987: “He’s hailed as a terrific up-tempo and mid-tempo player, but for me Scott is the balladeer of this generation… maybe of any generation.”  Apt words then and no less applicable now as Scott Hamilton demonstrates on most current release Swedish Ballads & More.

Plugged into a trio of top-rated Swedish musicians, Hamilton demonstrates that his brilliance is in abundant supply leading off with an old Swedish folksong “Dear Old Stockholm” which gained some cachet when it was recorded by the Miles Davis Quintet. Pianist Jan Lundgren has a swinging boppish style and is a flawless complement to Hamilton’s full-toned tenor, both of which they execute to perfection on “Swing In F”. The beautifully-structured “You Can’t Be In Love With a Dream” is done with affection by Hamilton and Lundgren as a duo and demonstrates a solid appreciation of their instruments.

Despite a tenuous connection to Sweden, Quincy Jones penned “Stockholm Sweetnin’” which was originally recorded in Stockholm in 1953 by Clifford Brown and Art Farmer and a number of Swedish jazz musicians and was based on the harmonic underpinnings of “You Leave Me Breathless”. Hamilton takes the opening chorus, then gives pianist Lundgren room to run which he does with sparkle, and then Hamilton comes back in with a long sinewy solo. The session closes with “Blues i oktaver” which is not really a blues, but an oblique composition written in octaves which provides the basis for a vibrant interplay between Hamilton and Lundgren which they carry-off in bracing form. A delightful album done in Hamilton’s usual agile and thoughtful style.

TrackList: Dear Old Stockholm; Swing In F; You Can’t Be In Love With a Dream; Trubbel; Stockholm Sweetnin’; Min Soldat (My Soldier); Blues i oktaver

—Pierre Giroux