When tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton made his way to the Big Apple from his home in Rhode Island in 1976, jazz was on the decline. The genre's heyday was long gone, and the strains of electric jazz fusion were in the air. That would be reason enough for a young jazz musician to find life in the big city a bit harrowing, but then consider that Hamilton was more enamored of swing-era players than with forward thinkers such as John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins. Needless to say, as a throwback to the days of Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, and Ben Webster, the then-22-year-old protégé created more than his fair share of controversy, several years before Wynton Marsalis and the new jazz renaissance would usher in a rediscovery of mainstream sensibilities.
Although Hamilton has worked with a plethora of jazz luminaries over the years, including the renowned Benny Goodman, he's most at home in the small group ensembles that he has led over the past two decades. Preferring to put swing at a premium, Hamilton's tenor speaks with conviction and a healthy swagger, as heard throughout the recent Concord release Jazz Signatures, not to mention the dozens of other fine records he's cut as a leader.