According to a press release accompanying this new album from BluJazz, the three musicians who perform therein are "living legends. Well, I wouldn't know about that, but they are pretty darn good. Pianist Dan Haerle, the group's nominal leader, plays marvelously, but no more so than bassist Bob Bowman or drummer Jack Mouse, whose decorous backdrops astutely complement Haerle's beguiling soundscapes.
Haerle, a professor in the Jazz Studies department at the University of North Texas for 25 years, has toured with Stan Kenton and Clark Terry and performed with Chris Connor, Mel Tormé, Al Jarreau, Pat Metheny, Dave Liebman, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard and others. Bowman has played with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis and Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin big bands and toured with the likes of Bud Shank, Carmen McRae and Karrin Allyson, while Mouse has worked with Kenton, Terry, Herb Ellis, Joe Williams, Randy Brecker, Dianne Reeves, Bob Mintzer, Bunky Green and many others.
Now that we've validated the credentials, what of the music? As the title suggests, it consists entirely of standards, divided evenly between popular music and jazz, with enduring compositions by Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Bronislau Kaper, Johnny Green and Frank Churchill rubbing shoulders with classics by Thad Jones, Erroll Garner, Miles Davis, Horace Silver and Kenny Dorham.
Haerle's fluent improvisations, governed largely by his agile right hand, have a lyrical/logical flow that is always rhythmically and harmonically pleasing. As for Bowman and Mouse, their backing can best be characterized as tastefully subtle. Tasteful also describes the group's musical choices, from Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean, Kern's "All the Things You Are, Green's "Body and Soul and Kaper's "Green Dolphin Street to Garner's "Misty, Silver's "Peace and Dorham's "Blue Bossa. Not to mention Jones's "A Child Is Born, Davis's "All Blues and Churchill's "Some Day My Prince Will Come.
A word should be said about tempo, as Haerle paces each number carefully, making sure that it not only enhances the composer's purpose but also swings. The recording itself is first-rate, while the 68:38 playing time speaks for itself. Legends or no, Haerle, Bowman and Mouse have constructed a sharp and rewarding trio session.