Guitarist Henry Robinett is a patient man. In April 2000, when he was between gigs and bands, he brought together several top players from Northern California and, in two days, recorded two albums the first of which was called Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then (Nefertiti 2019) . Now with the release of Jazz Standards Volume 2: Then Again we have the complete output from this aggregation which, in addition to Robinett, includes Joe Gilman on piano, Chris Symer on bass and Michael Stephans on drums.
The music presented here is very much standard songbook material. Compositions by Jimmy Van Heusen are at the forefront, with four of his most recognizable numbers dominating the set list, "Like Someone In Love," "I Thought About You," "Darn That Dream" and "It Could Happen To You." The band, led by Robinett's guitar, glides through these numbers with an easy grace, picking up the cleverly calibrated dynamics offered by the structure of the material.
The poet, writer and critic Dorothy Parker wrote the lyrics on "How Am I To Know" to the music composed by Jack King. Written originally as a ballad and recorded as such in 1946 by Billie Holiday, it nevertheless found a place as a swinger and was covered by Bill Evans on his album Peace, Piece (Milestone 1975). The quartet decided that the latter interpretation fitted their style, and even slightly upped the tempo. Robinett's fingers dash over the stings like a water-bug, and Gilman delivers a thoughtful piano solo in a striking linear construction.
There are three jazz oriented compositions in this session, namely the Miles Davis composition "Milestones" and two Thelonious Monk numbers; "Monk's Mood" and "San Francisco Holiday (Worry Later)." The version of "Milestones" presented here is not the same composition as that offered on the album of the same name (Columbia 1958), but rather the number written by John Lewis and credited to Davis when he was with the Charlie Parker group. There is no musical relationship between the two numbers. On the Davis number, both Robinett and Gilman develop an interesting integrated bop line which carries the frame forward before Robinett takes off on his creative solo. As the number progresses, bassist Symer displays his big-toned notes with weight and force, followed by drummer Stephans taking an interesting tour of his drum-kit with a heated but unflashy approach.
The final two tracks are the Monk compositions and they are unmistakable in their provenance. The band is in a solid groove with faithful command of the material and the improvisations are full of creativity and surprise.
Sometimes the old stuff is the best stuff.
Yours Is My Heart Alone; Like Someone In Love; I Thought About You; On The Street Where
You Live; Milestones (original version); Body And Soul; How Am I To Know; Darn That
Dream; I Love You; It Could Happen To You; Monk's Mood; San Francisco Holiday(Worry
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