Borrowing from The Great American Songbook is a standard practice for many jazz artists, who include one or more pieces when rounding out a repertoire of primarily new material. Not so for pianist Ted Rosenthal, whose affinity for music from the Songbook is reflected on at least two previous recordings, Rosenthology (Concord Jazz, 1994) and One Night in Vermont (Planet Arts, 2003), focusing on music from Irving Berlin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Tadd Dameron and Matt Dennis. On Out of This World, Rosenthal takes his featured trio of bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Quincy Davis on another musical journey, revisiting the classics.
Presenting ten time-honored and oft-recorded songs in a refreshing new manner is a challenge Rosenthal's trio meets rather convincingly. Whether re-harmonizing a tune or inserting an odd-meter arrangement, the pianist explores and stretches the limits in providing new interpretations of ageless contributions from Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin and Harold Arlen, among others.
Rosenthal's 9/8 rearrangement of Arlen's title track features strong bass work, and includes a few bars reminiscent of Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk." Porter's "So In Love" gets such an overhaul from the pianist that the melody is hard to distinguish, turning this old tune almost new. The trio swings to a swift-tempo rendition of "Have You Met Miss Jones" providing Rosenthal a format to show off a bit of his more than appreciable talents. In stark contrast, the group ventures into dark and somber territory on Gershwin's long and bluesy "Prelude # 2."
The music flows warm and gentle on Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom," "How Long Has This Been Going On" and the familiar "In the Wee Hours of The Morning." The brisk swinging approach is covered on the sharp "People Will Say We're In Love," "Embraceable You" and the brief but charging "Cry Me a River." Performing music that is every bit as part of American culture and musical history, Ted Rosenthal and crew stay very earthbound here, crafting cleaver and inventive new reads to beautiful old tunes that are truly Out of This World.
Out Of This World; So In Love; Have You Met Miss Jones?; Prelude #2; Embraceable You; People Will Say We're In Love; Lotus Blossom; How Long Has This Been Going On?; Cry Me A River; In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning.