Scott Hamilton, Tenor Sax


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Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 27, 2009 - 10:50pm PT
Al old clip, but such elegant playing from Scott and the others. So very restrained and evocative.

And if you're a true jazz fan, check this one out, about what some consider the greatest album of the "Classic" era.


Trad climber
san Jose, CA
Dec 27, 2009 - 11:45pm PT
The Concord group is a record company which was begun by my father, Carl E Jefferson in the early 1970's to record the various artists who came to play at the Concord Jazz Festival which he also started in Concord California. My dad was instrumental in getting the Concord Pavillion built, and in his lifetime personally produced about 750 albums. In those days, the company was called Concord Jazz. He was able to sell the company just before his death, and after a number of twists and turns, it is the Concord group.

Scott Hamilton was a dear friend of dad's, along with many of the greatest names in Jazz. Dad's company treated them fairly (a real rarity in the record business), and he went to extraordinary lengths to promote and protect them. I was on a Jazz tour of Japan that my father organized one year, and I saw the greatness and also the vulnerability of these fantastic musicians. I have strong memories of eating soba noodles in a greasy spoon diner in the wilds of Kyoto with Emily Remler, one of the greatest female jazz guitarists ever while she was going cold turkey from heroin.

If you like jazz piano, you should look up the Maybeck recital Series that dad did of the best of the best, solo in a recital hall. He pumped these people up with admonitions that this was their moment to go down in history as they showed their true virtuosity all by themselves. Amazing recordings. I do not have all of dad's albums, but do have many of them. If you are ever looking for a hard to find Concord Jazz recording, drop me a line.

It was quite a thrill to hear this after not being involved with Concord for many years. I was sorry to hear that Scott had died. He was a little guy with a BIG sax. Did you know that he couldn't read music? I was at a recording session with Scott and the legendary Benny Carter, and Benny was ASTONISHED that Scott couldn't read music. But all they had to do was "hum a few bars" and he was all over it. A truly wonderful talent, and a good friend of my father.

I could go on all night about the great things my dad did for so many jazz artists, and how many people's careers he personally resuscitated, often late in their lives. He was a true friend to Jazz, and its biggest fan. It is great that the company he gave his life energy to still follows a good path.

All the best,

Michael Jefferson
ron gomez

Trad climber
Dec 28, 2009 - 12:25am PT
Michael, perhaps you SHOULD go on with your stories, I would think you have an insight to the jazz world untold by others. I would love to hear some of what you'd have to say!

Trad climber
san Jose, CA
Dec 28, 2009 - 01:47am PT
Ok, one story about my father's jazz tour of Japan.

My dad was quite the businessman, and had arranged the Fujitsa Concord Jazz Tour in which he would bring a number of his artists and they would play at a variety of venues around Japan. This particular trip was around 1987. During this trip, Dad would meet with top executives of the various record companies in Japan, and we would often get treated to AMAZING dinners, with individual serving geishas in places so beautiful it would almost stop your heart.

Now the Japanese take jazz REALLY REALLY seriously, and American artists were followed there almost as religious deities. In particular, Jim Hall, the guitarist, was held in the highest esteem. The Jazz tour took place all over Japan, with different artists playing different venues. Jim Hall had been scheduled to play in a huge hall in Kyoto, seating 15,000 people, all of whom were diehard fans. Jim Hall had once had a very serious drinking problem, but at that time, had kicked it and was sober. The whole tour group was based in Tokyo, but had to split up to play several remote venues. Since Jim was due to play in 4 days time in Kyoto, he was not playing at the various venues all over Japan. As a result, he was left completely on his own for those 4 days in Tokyo.

Now Tokyo, in the mid '80s was almost an alien planet if you were from America. Hardly anyone spoke any English at all, there were no street signs in English characters, the trains, although excellent, required considerable effort to decipher, and as a result Jim started to rot in his hotel room. At that time, alcohol was readily available on the street, where large vending machines would dispense barrels of beer or bottles of scotch to anyone with a few hundred Yen. With no one around to support him, Jim fell off the wagon and went on a heroic bender for 4 days. One of the Japanese helpers from the tour went to get him for the bullet train ride to Kyoto, and found him practically paralytic. In the mean time, my father and I and the other musicians had arrived at the venue in Kyoto and were wondering where Jim was, given that he was the star.

The audience was standing room only, and then some, and as the time for the show approached, my father, who was a chronically overstressed worrier, became frantic with anxiety. If Jim didn't show up there would be literally HELL TO PAY!!! Just minutes before the start time, the poor Japanese assistant arrived from Tokyo, virtually carrying Jim Hall. His 4 day bender had left him both drunk and delusional. He could barely stand up without assistance. My dad went ballistic, which helped not at all, so another musician and I started walking him around backstage while pumping him full of as much black coffee as we could get him to drink. In the meantime, my father was alternately fainting, moaning, yelling, and generally going nuts, and everyone was screwed up to maximum tension. Backstage was NOT a happy place.

Finally, Jim got to the point where he could at least stand up and stagger a bit, and mumbled something about wanting his guitar. We handed it to him and almost miraculously he started to come together (or so it SEEMED...). My dad judged him able to play, and sent out the bassist and drummer (it was a trio). After they had gotten organized on stage, we manhandled Jim to the exit onto the stage and told him to go play. He staggered out onto the stage to thunderous applause from the rapturous fans, and it looked like we would be ok. A lifetime of habit put him on autopilot for a bit as he found the amp cord and plugged in. He gazed blankly around for a few minutes while the audience grew restless. My dad was exhorting him from the wings to play something, anything! Finally, he took his pick and started to play. Now Jim Hall had an ethereal style, very cerebral and floating at the best of times. That evening, he was on the moon. The idea was for him to play a signature solo, haunting and subtle- meat for the Japanese. So off he went in an unknown key, playing to the stars. The drummer and bassist were starting to get very worried, and kept looking to the wings for a clue as to what to do. Like a butterfly, Jim's solo would float nearer to the planned song and then just as the other musicians were getting ready to start the musical dialogue, away he would go into another fantasy world of his own. The audience could tell that something was up, and were getting very restless. Visions of being tarred and feathered and carried to the bullet train on a wooden rail were beginning to fill our minds. But eventually, more by random chance than anything else, he played a few notes that related to the planned song, and the drummer and bassist grabbed a-hold like their lives depended on it (which they might well have...)and dragged him back from the abyss and after that the muscle memory and deep feelings for the music took over and he played the rest of the song list. Not well, but at least in an understandable way. The audience was very disappointed, and the reviews were terrible, but we lived to play another venue. A side effect was that my dad came down with a horrendous case of shingles from the stress, and we got to learn about medicine and doctors in Japan. HMO's be damned, we have it good here...

My observation was that the Jazz musicians who my father worked with (hundreds) seemed to fall into several categories. Some were superior musicians, and also good, grounded businessmen and people. They dealt with the world in an upfront and forthright manner. Another category, quite large, were like little children. Music was their lives, their passion, their sole interest, and their language. When playing a gig, practicing, or in session, they communicated through music with each other in an almost paranormal way. The sensitivity and artistry and way they seemed to read each others minds was thrilling to behold. But when the music stopped, they seemed barely able to cope with the real world. It was something that just didn't really make sense for them. Drug and alcohol abuse was very common, perhaps to dull the pain of the outside world, perhaps as a retreat from an existence totally barren and meaningless compared to their music. I have always had very mixed feelings about these musical geniuses (and some of the greatest jazz musicians in history were in this group). One the one hand, I have felt pity that their lives outside of music were so screwed up and tragic. On the other hand, I have seen closeup what a great gift taken to the limit is capable of. The soaring heights of an intense session with world class players transcends normal life.

THis year we have lost some of our great climbing friends and heroes. In their own way, they played a type of music that gods would be proud to play, just as did my dad's musical friends. In the climbing community, we can go to places and see things, experience things that normal people cannot. We are proud of this and should be. So too in music. I think it was Cragman who in an earlier thread tried to put the loss of our colleagues and friends in perspective. Thinking back to the fabulous, tragic, hugely gifted, sadly inept Jazz musicians I have had the honor to hear play, I guess if I had my choice I would rather have soared and fallen to earth in flames than have rotted in a "normal life". The intensity of great music or great climbing is quite the same, and if we are fortunate enough to be able to partake of it at the edge, whatever else happens in life might be a fair price for the journey.

I haven't said this very well, but that is how I feel.

All the best,

Michael Jefferson

from where the anecdotes roam
Dec 28, 2009 - 03:38am PT
what a terrific essay. thankyou for the effort, though the result appears effortless.

it's an image forged in the animation world, but it occasionaly comes to pass here on the forum; you toss in a line and pull back an astonishing, outsized prize. it's a pleasure to play in the sand along shore of this pond, a respectful distance from the water's edge.

the regard for your father's accomplishments comes shining through. where would we be, and where would the souls be who were stricken with raging talent were it not for the afficiandos whose organization skills provide the conduit to public awareness.

since you brought up the somewhat disfunctional remainders of lives so immersed in art, and we've all witnessed the sometimes precautionary antics of the uncontainable talents among our tribe, it's a proper tribute to your father's passion to note the fire that burned within him to get the "message" of great talent communicated. thankfully, highly effectively.

of course we've heard the radio professionals in mellifluous voice credit the great names followed by... "on the concord label."
now the image you painted of your dad will be suspended for a moment, the next time around

Social climber
Dec 28, 2009 - 01:39pm PT
Huge thanks to Michael for that fantastically insightful post - something I imagine I'd read in Harper's magazine & not on a climber's forum.

Most excellent thanks Michael.

....and DITTO to what hooblie says.
Double D

Dec 28, 2009 - 01:50pm PT
Largo thanks for the post and Michael, great stuff!

Trad climber
san Jose, CA
Dec 28, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
Hooblie, Tami, and Double D'
Many thanks for the kind words. I grew up apart from my father and only got close to him in adulthood. He was a very passionate person who did a lot of good in the world. For those interested in Jazz, here is a link to the Wikipedia article about Concord Records. If you have an interest in mainline, classical jazz, some of the best recordings by the best musicians can be found in their catalog. Check out the links to their artists at the bottom of the page.

Here is a link to a short Bio of Dad, and some other information about his life and jazz.

A final story about the power of great music.
In 1995 Dad was diagnosed with liver cancer and found that he had only weeks to live. He immediately went into overdrive and finalized deals that would protect his employees, and organize things relating to the company. In only a few weeks, he was near death at Saint Helena hospital, as his liver failed. He was a very tough guy in a quiet way, and although we thought that he was in the final slide on several occasions, he would rally for a few more days. Finally, the bad blood chemistry got the better of him and he slipped into a coma. The doctors were sure that this was it. As you would expect, the entire family had gathered and we were pretty glum. Then Ken Peplowski, the great clarinetist showed up at the ICU where we had gathered. With tears streaming down his face he assembled his clarinet and began to play. He had hardly finished the first bar when my father popped right out of his "death coma", sat bolt upright in bed and hollered "KEN!!!" Ken kept playing and soon the entire ICU was filled with doctors, nurses, relatives, and even a few terminal patients were wheeled in. Ken played for a long time, and the effect on all was magical. My father had several more days of great contentment, as Ken continued to visit. Finally, though, even music was not enough and he passed along to whatever waits.

I am very proud and happy to inform those on the Taco interested in Jazz a little about his life and the shining legacy of astounding musical magic he immortalized forever with his recordings.

All the best,

Michael Jefferson

Social climber
Dec 28, 2009 - 11:28pm PT
Michael you weave a most wonderful story. Don't ever discount how much others might want to read your words. Of COURSE you grew apart from your Dad; we all grow away from our parents. How else do we learn to stand on our own 2 pegs ?
But if we are lucky we grow back to appreciate and respect what they did - for us, extended family however that might be perceived and , by extension, the community.
Your words could flow away from you creating ripples on ponds you don't even know exist.

May you be blessed with the time to write these stories so they may be shared by all afficionados !!!

Cheers, Tami Knight

Trad climber
san Jose, CA
Dec 29, 2009 - 12:23am PT
Thank you Tami
Your own words and drawings gave me many excellent moments during a few tough years. I am still looking for an inflatable big wall sheep and a few avalanche poodles for my next big adventure!
All the best,
Michael Jefferson

Frozen In Somewhere
Dec 29, 2009 - 12:42am PT
I should be working, but I read this. Sure glad I did, great stories, thanks.

Dec 29, 2009 - 01:05am PT
Michael, those are great stories, and don't forget that some jazz historian may be interested in them and the history of Concord.

This thread just prompted me to pick up a Gerry Mulligan/Scott Hamilton
record on Concord when I saw it today. Good stuff.

Just to correct one thing somebody said above, I do believe Scott Hamilton is still with us and active:
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Dec 29, 2009 - 12:12pm PT
Jaysus John, Scott was superb. I met him at the Jazz Basement at Dean Street Pizza Express in London when I worked on Jazz Express Magazine. He did three great sets and again the next day, both of which I had the privilege to hear (the magazine was part of Peter Boizot's enterprises, along with Pizza Express, I always got in free and free food, I just had to pay for the drinks). I still have a tape of his with Flip Phillips, "A Sound Investment, Flip Phillips with Scott Hamilton". I have to try and transfer the tape to CD/Digital (iPod).

Heck Ferretlegger, I met your dad Carl on several occasions, a dedicated music lover and promoter. In fact, I know you, I just cannot recall when/how I met you, you have a sister, don't you. I think it was through her, but then that was back in the mid-1970s. Did you climb on Diablo? Email me please.

Also, speaking of Benny Carter, I was at Benny's 83rd birthday when he played at the Jazz Basement (Pizza Express Jazz Club) in SoHo. After the last set and after all of the customers had left, the staff, myself, Benny and his band stayed up until about 4am and he regaled us with stories of playing jazz through the decades. He was a gas.

I was sorry to hear that Scott had died.

To the best of my knowledge he is still alive and jammin'.
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