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Henry Robinett Quartet: Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then

Dan Bilawsky By

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Henry Robinett Quartet: Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then
Back in April of 2000, guitarist Henry Robinett convened a quartet in The Hangar, a Sacramento studio where he had been working as an engineer and producer. An intentionally casual session, it was all standards all the way. Over the course of two days, tracks were called, solos and some other specifics were sorted out, and the music just flowed. When all was said and done, Robinett left and put the material on the shelf...where it sat for nearly two decades until curiosity finally got the better of him. Listening back to the material from a distance, and happy with the results, he finally decided to release it.

Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then, not surprisingly, plays it straight. No insane reharmonizations or metric oddities, and no moves into the outer limits. These four—Robinett plus pianist Joe Gilman, bassist Chris Symer and drummer Michael Stephans—just swing and sing with their instruments. Opening on "I Hear A Rhapsody," things are bright as expected. Then the quartet dials it back a bit with "Yellow Days (La Mentira)," rides high with an enthusiastic take on "The Days of Wine and Roses" and a highly-caffeinated "The Way You Look Tonight," and deals in a more casual vibe with "Ill Wind." The second half of the album keeps the chestnuts coming with a down-the-middle "East of the Sun," fiery "Invitation," measured "Soul Eyes" and "Why Do I Love You?," and snappy "Pinocchio." All of it, not surprisingly, goes down easy.

While Robinett may have benefited from the variety that something like a waltz, bossa or pure ballad setting could've offered, and while the drums seem to be mixed a tad too high, these are minor gripes. The guitarist and his band mates clearly have a way with standards, and that shows. With more on the way—a second set from the original sessions and two additional volumes worth of material delivered by the same band, reconvened in 2019—the future looks bright for this project.

Track Listing

I Hear A Rhapsody; Yellow Days (La Mentira); The Days of Wine and Roses; The Way You Look Tonight; Ill Wind; East of the Sun; Invitation; Soul Eyes; Why Do I Love You?; Pinocchio.

Personnel

Henry Robinett: guitar; Joe Gilman: piano; Chris Symer: bass; Michael Stephans: drums.

Album information

Title: Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Nefertiti Records

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