Standards, when presented in their original form, speak of the time and place of their creation, but part of their longevity is due to the fact that they aren't encased in an early twentieth century amber that fossilizes and dates the material. The music of George Gershwin
, Cole Porter
, Billy Strayhorn
, and Richard Rodgers is timeless, but it can all be refashioned, refitted and recast to serve any musician's vision and taste. The songs are bodies and the artists are musical clothiers waiting to drape them in their designs.
On Out Of This World
, pianist Ted Rosenthal addresses ten standards by shaping, sizing and styling them to his liking, with some help from bassist Noriko Ueda
and drummer Quincy Davis. This threesome showed a strong rapport on Rosenthal's previous outingImpromptu
(Playscape, 2010) and their interconnectedness has developed even further since that recording hit the shelves. Whether they're diving into an odd time signature, moving between Latin and swing feels, or peeling back the layers of complexity to reveal something of profound beauty, it is almost a guarantee that they're doing it as one unified musical unit.
While a few songs, like the Frank Sinatra
-associated "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning," retain the aural essence that they were born with, Rosenthal usually has a field day finding new things to say about old tunes. The title track, performed in 9/8 with occasional rhythmic allusions to Dave Brubeck
's "Blue Rondo A La Turk," is born anew, and "Embraceable You" is given a 5/4 facelift that serves the song well. Gershwin's "Prelude #2" is all about the blues with dirge-like undertones, but when this band swings ("People Will Say We're In Love"), the music is all smiles.
While Rosenthal revels in the unexpected, he respects the source material and what makes it so special. "So In Love" might move from relative comfort to warp speed swing, but it's still easily recognized as being "So In Love." The same argument can be made for the aforementioned "Embraceable You," the harmonically altered "Have You Met Miss Jones?," and every other performance on display. On Out Of This World
, Ted Rosenthal takes care to make this music accessible and
challenging but, more importantly, he moves it out of the comfort zone that it traditionally occupies and into the modern epoch of jazz.