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Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow, Bobby Previte - The New Standard (2014)

27-05-2014, 21:44
Music | Jazz

Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow, Bobby Previte - The New Standard (2014)

Artist: Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow, Bobby Previte
Title Of Album: The New Standard
Year Of Release: 2014
Genre: Jazz
Label: RareNoise Records
Format: MP3
Quality: 320 kbps, 44.1 Khz
Total Time: 57:38
Total Size: 135 Mb
Covers: Front

01. Clarissa (4:06)
02. Minor Soul (6:18)
03. Step Lively (6:45)
04. Clearing (4:50)
05. Trek (4:09)
06. The New Standard (6:34)
07. I See No Leader (5:38)
08. Blue Shuffle (6:40)
09. All Things To All People (6:08)
10. Surrender The Chaise (6:26)

From a record label that’s decidedly askance from the mainstream, RareNoise dispenses with the noisy (Mumpbeak) and the experimental (Chat Noir) to release a record that’s, well, pretty darn jazzy. Entitled The New Standard, it features young New York Downtown pianist Jamie Saft as bandleader and chief composer, working out a handful of straight-ahead jazz charts with the venerable rhythm section of bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bobby Previte.

Recorded and mixed on the fly, direct to ½-inch analog tape, The New Standard feels like a late night eavesdropping session from behind the living room drapes, as if the listener were a 12-year old kid, sneaking down the midnight stairs to hear the grownups kicked back with a little food, maybe a little wine and a whole lot of inspiration.

From Previte’s point of view, that’s very much how the session felt in the studio. "It was the simplest, chillest record I have ever done. We set up, went out and had a nice lunch, went back to the studio and three hours later it was all done in one take. It's kind of incredible it actually worked out as it did. And my 1965 Rogers Holiday model tubs, which I got when I was 14 years old, have never, and probably will never sound better. The sound is so full, so creamy I feel like licking it!"

For Saft, whose Plymouth collaboration with Joe Morris we reviewed back in April, the relaxed atmosphere of the recording session started with Previte’s idea they’d work off of simple strong structures. "Bobby suggested that I put together simple structures for us to use as starting points," he explains. "I tried to put together pieces that were super soulful and honest. I wanted compositions that would highlight Steve's absolute mastery of melody and Bobby's incredibly soulful approach to groove. They took my simple pieces and made them into grand structures on which to improvise. Beginnings and endings were all improvised and this gives the album a special type of magic."

The New Standard begins with “Clarissa,” the first of seven Saft compositions included in this 10-song set. As with all the tunes on the record, it’s a compact no-nonsense, sparsely appointed jazz tune, this one built on Previte’s shuffling brushes and Swallow’s easy going electric bass in support of Saft cuddling up to all the notes he could find behind the back beat. “Minor Shuffle” is a head-bobbing, body-weaving waltz that’s not really a waltz, anchored by the booming bass drum of Previte’s Rogers Holidays, a comfortably melodic tune with no overtly showy improvisational choices from Saft’s corner of the room.

“Step Lively,” one of three trio-penned tunes of The New Standard, boasts Previte’s heavy right foot and Swallow’s subtle yet gritty bass playing in a modified Latin blues configuration…until they kick into a straight swing groove about midway through the tune. "Clearing," another band co-write, is a straight-ahead slow blues hallelujah, a time to get religion, with Saft wheeling out the B3 and the swirling Leslie cabinet. “Trek” sounds like a tall walk up a slow hill, around the corner from that restaurant in Chinatown, Saft’s flittery piano playing the part of the noodles and Previte’s bass drum going “kung pow.” The title cut’s not the most interesting tune on the record but its successor, “I See No Leader” is a fun, double-time swing set that may well be an homage to that white plastic tape that spins around the recording hub before the session rolls in earnest.

Though it was the first musical meeting of these three players – and their stellar engineer Joe Ferla – it sounds as if they’ve been playing together for years. So it goes with the legacy of jazz music, where like minds are usually meeting in spirit before they meet in person.

The New Standard is a classy record of cool compositions, played with style and fun and spirit. ~By Michael Verity

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