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Terrence Brewer: Setting The Standard, Volume One

Edward Blanco By

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San Francisco Bay Area guitarist Terrence Brewer offers his fifth recording as leader with Setting The Standard, Volume One, documenting the first volume of a project that delivers new arrangements and fresh interpretations of standards from the past. Applying a classic straight-ahead approach to music from legendary composers like Cole Porter Rodgers and Hart, Duke Ellington and Henry Mancini, Brewer once again draws from the past to make a brilliant musical statement.

Brewer's previous album, Groovin' Wes (Strong Brew Music, 2009), paid homage to legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery and may have served as an inspiration to once again look to the past for the music of today. This release, featuring a quintet of Bay Area musicians, presents eight well-known standards like "What Is This Thing Called Love," "My One and Only Love," "The Days of Wine and Roses" and Michel Legrand's signature, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life."

Highlights here include Rodgers and Hart's "I Could Write A Book," where Brewer's Montgomery-like guitar style is so prominent. "Midnight Mood" receives a lush treatment from the group, with sparkling support from pianist Kelly Park and tenor saxophonist Kasey Knudsen. Gene De Paul's immortal "You Don't Know What Love Is" features Knudsen's soprano on another beautiful rendition of a classic piece as Brewer floats the melody. Perhaps the album's most upbeat and perky piece goes to the Mancini/Mercer standard, "The Days of Wine and Roses."

Jazz is many things to many people and covers a wide spectrum of genres in which the words light, warm and mature applies to but a portion of styles. Setting The Standard, Volume One is the first selection of warm and adult music, presented with a touch of finesse from Brewer, who breathes new life into known and loved jazz standards. Perhaps his best recording to date, let's hope that Volume Two offers the same dynamic musical setting.

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