All about Jazz 2017
How many collections of standards does the jazz world really need? The answer, of course, is that there's always room for more as long as the players and listeners can find something relevant and fresh. Every piece on offer in this batch has been around for several decades at least, but these old things never fail to shine in the right hands.
For every Orrin Keepnews or Teo Macero you've heard of, there are dozens of other advocates and producers who never became well-known names, even though their work behind the console may have been just as important and inventive. Don Schlitten, co-founder of Signal Records, Cobblestone and Xanadu, is one of them. Admirer and jazz journalist Tom Gsteiger aims to help rectify that here with a "producer's album" of his own in tribute—following Schlitten's method by assembling a simpatico cast of players and turning them loose without preparation. The approach was to simply hit the ground (or rather the downbeat) and run.
The resulting recording has a beautifully classic flair, right down to placing a William Evans at the piano bench. 1952's "Bemsha Swing" comes out as the newest piece in this set. The Thelonious Monk tunes are the most quirkily playful, as Andy Scherrer steps in to add an extra sax alongside session lead Donat Fisch. In "Bemsha" and an appealingly sly "Misterioso" the two relish the chance to play games, sometimes ping-ponging the lead line back and forth, sometimes playing Simon-Says by overlapping each other half a measure apart. Evans glides warmly through "Day Dream" and "Sweet Lorraine," and Banz Oester and Jorge Rossy get their own little spots in front while keeping the affair frisky and fun. The parts are impressive and the whole is a treat.