Scott Hamilton's Label Debut, "Remembering Billie," Out 2/26

Blue Duchess Records announces the signing of jazz tenor saxophone great Scott Hamilton, and will release his label debut CD, Remembering Billie, on February 26. Produced by Duke Robillard, the 10 all-instrumental tracks on Remembering Billie salute Billie Holiday in a worthy tribute of songs associated with the iconic singer, including several of her most-cherished tunes, such as “Good Morning Heartache,” “Them There Eyes” and “God Bless the Child.” Hamilton’s sax is backed by a trio of Tim Ray on piano, Dave Zinno on acoustic bass and Jim Gwin on drums, with Duke Robillard guesting on two tracks on acoustic archtop guitar. 

The sessions were recorded at Lakewest Recording in West Greenwich, RI.

“I started to make a Billie tribute many years ago with Ruby Braff but it ended up as something else,” Hamilton says. “At any rate, I have always considered the Billie Holiday repertoire as a great subject for an album like this. It's possible to pay tribute without changing your own style for the occasion - a big problem with most ‘project’ albums. It was Duke’s idea to do an album with the guys I play with when I’m back home in New England, which is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I think the band is what makes this record special - the guys play so well together. I can't really do them justice here. Everything they play is so right for the songs.

And Duke - I'm glad we were able to talk him into playing on a couple of numbers. He really loves these songs and it’s great to hear him on the acoustic guitar. I wish we could play some gigs with this band.”

Whether on ballads or swinging tunes, the magical tenor sax of Scott Hamilton shines through on Remembering Billie with his impressive tones and expressive soul. “Eight of the ten selections here are from that pre-WWII era when Billie’s work contained a lightness, great joy and a sense of fun,” writes Bob Porter in the album’s liner notes. “She made it sound so easy, but then so does Scott Hamilton. But you know it cannot be easy or else all musicians would have that quality and very, very few actually do. This is timeless music played by one of the few masters of our time. Treasure it.”

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Scott Hamilton got an early schooling in jazz from his father’s record collection, and after experimenting with several instruments, dedicated his playing exclusively to the saxophone by the time he was 16. After moving to New York at age 22, he was taken under the wing of legendary trumpeter Roy Eldridge, who helped get him a six-week gig at Michael’s Pub in the city, and in turn, chances to play and learn from such people like Eldridge, Illinois Jacquet, Jo Jones and the great Benny Goodman.  

In 1977, he formed his own band and signed to Concord Records, where he recorded over 40 albums with that label, including a lengthy and noteworthy collaboration with singer Rosemary Clooney that resulted in 15 albums over 15 years. Many of those projects involved concept albums around composers such as Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer; some were individual projects or ballads, show tunes and a couple of dedications to singers Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday. On Remembering Billie, Hamilton reprises three of the songs included in the original Holiday tribute he recorded with Clooney.

In addition to a repertoire of acclaimed albums released under his own name, Scott Hamilton has made albums with such legends as Woody Herman, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan and Buddy Tate. Over the years, he’s also performed and recorded with such touring bands as the Concord Jazz All Stars, the Concord Super Band and George Wein’s Newport Jazz Festival All Stars. Based in London for a number of years, Scott now travels the globe from his home in Italy, touring regularly all over the world at festivals, jazz club dates and residencies at some of the most prestigious venues in the world.    

For more information, visit www.blueduchessrecords.com or www.scotthamiltonsax.com.