New York Standards Quartet: Unstandard

[7 February 2012]

By Philip Majorins

This album is a great reminder that there is no substitute for experience when it comes to jazz. Unstandard is a playful treatment of jazz standards performed by a group of veteran New York musicians. Bandleader David Berkman shows impressive breadth and confidence on the piano, and Tim Armacost, Gene Jackson, and Yosuke Inoue follow suit. Standards such as “How High The Moon” and “Summer Night” are seamlessly arranged in between four delightful interludes that advance the frisky mood of Unstandard. Other highlights include takes on the Miles Davis tune “Solar”, entitled “Lunar”, and a re-interpretation of Bill Evans’ “Stella by Starlight” named “The Ballet Girl Stirs (by Starlight)”.

The virtuosity of these players proves that form truly does bring freedom.  These creative interpretations are full of energy precisely because they are set within the context of a modern jazz sensibility. In this case, embedding such complex musicianship within familiar refrains is a brilliant move. Unstandard possesses appeal and surprise for fans of classic and modern jazz. It is steeped in tradition, yet free from constraint.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/153440-new-york-standards-quartet-unstandard/