Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
133

Steve Smith/Michael Zilber: Reimagined, Vol. 1: Jazz Standards

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Smith/Michael Zilber: Reimagined, Vol. 1: Jazz Standards Saxophonist/arranger Michael Zilber has been "Zilberizing" popular and jazz standards for more than twenty years, and drummer Steve Smith, with whom he has played in various groups for the past six, suggested that he record an album of his "reimagined" tunes, which is what we have here. Reimagining, writes Zilber, is "the process where[by] everything in the tune except some form of the melody (sometimes rewritten) is fair game, from changes to meter to form to tempo."

The album's subtitle is "Jazz Standards," which holds true for much of the material, the possible exceptions being Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere" (from the Broadway musical West Side Story ) and the Gershwin brothers" "How Long Has This Been Going On?," which certainly has been played by a number of jazz musicians in various contexts over the years.

The bottom line, of course, is does "Zilberizing" work? And the anwer is, most of the time surprisingly well. While one has to listen closely at times, the melodies are indeed recognizable, even at greatly altered tempos, as is the case with Ellington's somber "Mood Indigo," which here sounds more like "Mood Euphoric." In fact, Zilber doesn't go as far as other jazz musicians, especially boppers, who have taken standards and completely rewritten them to produce entirely "new" compositions ("I Got Rhythm," to use only one example, has been recomposed dozens if not scores of times and credited to its author as an "original"). Zilber is more interested in reharmonizing, introducing new keys and tempos while leaving the melody, if not intact, at least identifiable. It's a challenge, one that Zilber, Smith, pianist Paul Nagel and bassist John Shifflett eagerly accept.

Zilber, a superb technician whose influences include John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker and other modernists, plays soprano sax on three selections, tenor on the others. He's a resourceful improviser, as is Nagel, who shines whenever his number is called. Besides the songs already mentioned, the quartet "Zilberizes" compositions by Trane, Miles Davis, Eddie Harris, Dizzy Gillespie and Juan Tizol. The music is often invigorating, and never less than engaging. If you've been looking for contemporary jazz that's accessible but slightly off the beaten path, this could be the answer.

Contact: Bluejay Records, 150 Bridge St., Manchester, MA 01944. Web site, www.bluejayrecords.com


Track Listing: All Blues; Mood Indigo; Freedom Jazz Dance; Somewhere; Impressions; Manteca; Solar; Giant Steps; How Long Has This Been Going On??; Caravan; Countdown (63:23).

Personnel: Steve Smith, drums; Michael Zilber, tenor, soprano sax; Paul Nagel, piano; John Shifflett, bass.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Bluejay Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

Interviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Varese Sarabande
2015
buy
Live! One Great Night
Live! One Great Night
BFM Jazz
2012
buy
The Best of Steve Smith - The Tone Center Collection
The Best of Steve...
Tone Center
2009
buy
Vitalization
Vitalization
Hudson Music
2007
buy
Very Live at Ronnie Scott's
Very Live at Ronnie...
Tone Center
2003
buy
Reimagined, Vol. 1: Jazz Standards
Reimagined, Vol. 1:...
Bluejay Records
2003
buy
Alphonse Mouzon Alphonse Mouzon
multi-instrumentalist
Bill Bruford Bill Bruford
drums
Larry Coryell Larry Coryell
guitar
Dave Weckl Dave Weckl
drums
Lenny White Lenny White
drums
Everette Harp Everette Harp
saxophone
Steve Gadd Steve Gadd
drums
Craig Pilo Craig Pilo
drums
Omar Hakim Omar Hakim
drums

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.