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Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2015: Warren Vaché Trio/Scott Hamilton Trio

Warren Vaché Trio/Scott Hamilton Trio, Tron Kirk *****photo 4-2

It’s been too long since either cornettist Warren Vaché or tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton – once fixtures of the jazz festival – played in Edinburgh, so their back-to-back sets at the Tron on Sunday afternoon were eagerly anticipated by those of us whose love of swinging, tuneful, unpretentious jazz owes much to these two American stars.

A relaxed Vaché kicked off proceedings with a gorgeous set which was warm, intimate and full of good humour – until the coffee machine and the venue’s WD40-deficient kitchen door joined in. (Any steam that might have come out of the Vaché ears was channelled into a fiery, rafters-raising It’s Alright With Me.) Why the staff didn’t leave the door open and keep coffee off the menu for the duration of his acoustic set is a mystery and it clearly irritated both musicians and listeners alike, and threatened to upset the mood of the afternoon.

Despite the distractions, Vaché was on great form. On such exquisite ballads as How Long Has This Been Going On?, his gentle, tender cornet was cushioned by the terrific duo of Danish guitarist Jacob Fischer – a dazzlingly attentive, responsive and inventive player who masterfully wove Vaché’s melodic lines into his accompaniment or embroidered around them – and eloquent American bassist John Webber.

Scott Hamilton took over the same trio for his hour-long set which – despite his warming up on Vache’s closing number, How About You? – took a little while to get going, and climaxed with a couple of beautiful bossa ballads. (He even, in a historic Edinburgh first, played some piano!) Early on, he explained that he was confining himself to the tempo at which his fingers could work on a borrowed sax. “I flew up with Ryanair,” he said. “Need I say more?!”

* First published in The Herald, Tuesday July 21st

Warren Vaché Trio

* Tangerine

* My Shining Hour

* How Long Has This Been Going On?

* blues

* Misty

* It’s Alright With Me

* God Bless the Child

* How About You? (+ Scott Hamilton)

Scott Hamilton Trio

* I Hear a Rhapsody

* Swingin’ Till the Girls Come Home

*All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm

* The Girl From Ipanema

* Sunday

* The Shadow of Your Smile

 

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CD Recommendations

Carol Sloane: We’ll Meet Again (Arbors Records ARCD 19400)
*****
Dearest Duke, Carol Sloane’s last CD on Arbors, was a glorious affair which showcased her breathy, lyrical voice with just piano and Ken Peplowski on clarinet or tenor sax. Peplowski is reunited with Sloane on this collection of love songs and once more his playing is a dream, whether he’s accompanying or soloing. Veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and bassist Steve LaSpina add their stylish playing to the mix, while an uncredited Aaron Weinstein (violin) guest-stars on a few tracks. One of the best CDs of the year so far…
Stan Getz All-Star Groups: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz AMSC997)
*****
It’s difficult to get beyond the first disc in this double CD: it’s so sensational. Stan Getz’s 1957 encounter with the Oscar Peterson Trio is one of the must-have jazz albums and features tour-de-force performances all round. Getz blows I Want to Be Happy into smithereens, aided and abetted by the driving piano of Peterson, while the ballads are nothing short of sublime; Getz’s tenor at its most tender and beguiling. The other classic albums included are the 1955 Hamp and Getz (with vibes legend Lionel Hampton) and Jazz Giants, a superb all-star LP also from 1957.
Dave Brubeck & Paul Desmond: The Duets – 1975 (Verve 0602527068633)
****
Duo albums are a rare treat – especially when they’re as beautifully executed as this one, which was recorded in 1975. Pianist-composer Dave Brubeck and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond had the idea for the album when they played some duets together on a jazz cruise that year, and after listening to the results which had been recorded by the BBC (one of those original tracks is included here), they resolved to make an LP on dry land. Showcased in this setting, Desmond’s melancholy alto has an ethereal quality, while Brubeck’s piano is suitably haunting.
John Bunch: Do Not Disturb (Arbors Records ARCD 19403)
*****
The much-loved American jazz pianist John Bunch died in March at the age of 88. This wonderful trio album (with guitarist Frank Vignola and bassist John Webber) is his final CD. Recorded late last year, it gives little evidence of Bunch’s frailness as he swings energetically and as gracefully as ever through a typically diverse selection of numbers ranging from bop tunes to lesser-played Duke Ellington. Stand-outs include the Duke’s title tune, Sonny Rollins’ Doxy and Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way.

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