2011 has been productive year in the recording realm for pianist Ted Rosenthal. His contribution to The Westchester Jazz Orchestra's superb Maiden Voyage Suite
(WJO Records) helped elevate the re-imaging of pianist Herbie Hancock
's classic Maiden Voyage
(Blue Note, 1965) to the highest level of big band artistry. With Out of this World
, Rosenthal slips back to the more minimal piano trio, for his exquisite interpretations of some of The Great American Songbook's most beloved compositions.
Covering classic tunes by some of the Songbook's best-known composers with a high sheen and Rosenthal's distinctive style and refined touch, the trio opens with the title tune, written by Harold Arlen
and Johnny Mercer
. The trio takes the tune on a rolling and fluid 9/8 groove that seems to float on the clouds, buoyed by bassist Noriko Ueda
's succinct bounce and drummer Quincy Davis' odd-meter surprises.
It wouldn't be a standards set without some Cole Porter
. Rosenthal and the trio explore the beauty of the composer's "So in Love," beginning with a wistful elegance that slips from Latin groove to up-tempo swing.
And if a standards set must have some Cole Porter, George Gershwin
certainly can't be left out. There are three of Gershwin's works: "Prelude #2," taken into the deep blues; another odd-meter tryst with "Embraceable You;" and "How Long Has This Been Going On?," which gets the lightest of Rosenthal's touchwistful and pretty, full of inventive eddies.
"Lotus Blossom," from the pen of Billy Strayhorn
, is delicately lovely, and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," which was covered so perfectly by vocalist Frank Sinatra
on his 1955 Capitol Records album, In the Wee Small Hours
, is the perfect closer here, a reverent treatment of the timeless ballad full of longing and, in the hands of Rosenthal and his trio, a glimmer, perhaps, of hope.