Woodwind multi-instrumentalist Bruce Williamson features his longtime compatriot and mentor, pianist Art Lande
, in this collection of mostly standards, breathing new life into old melodies. Except for "Large Barge," a Williamson original tune reflecting his impressions of a lazy barge on the Ohio River, this quartet outing contains only material that will be well-known to seasoned jazz listeners. But these Williamson/Lande arrangements, each contributing roughly half, produce results far beyond standard. Reharmonization, uncommon time signatures, and unlikely combinations and treatment of songs are the standard for Standard Transmission
The opener, "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," cycles between jazz waltz and 4/4 swing, setting the stage for unexpected surprises on the stellar staples that follow. "Nature Boy" gets a slow, dreamy treatment in 5/4 time, while "Just You, Just Me" is a series of duets between the players in the quartet.
Bassist Peter Barshay
and drummer Alan Hall provide a tasty and tight team for rhythm support, playing together often, both with Lande and other musicians. They gel as a unit, understanding the minimum level of support Lande and Williamson expect. Williamson says that he has played together with Lande for 35 years, but the two have never made a standards album until now, providing the opportunity for something different. Not requiring much rehearsal, but yielding obvious spontaneity and extraordinary interchange, Standard Transmission
feels like a live jam session rather than a reading of complex arrangements.
Two selections combine tunes seldom joined: "Steps to a Woven Dream" pairs "You Stepped Out of a Dream" with "Weaver of Dreams"; "Mysterious Moon," on the other hand, couples Thelonious Monk
's "Misterioso" with "How High the Moon," but played simultaneously and with a surprise ending.
Significant reharmonization and an altered melody suits the quartet's reading of "All of Me." Also included are: Joe Henderson
's "Mamacita"; "Don't Blame Me," featuring countermelodies by Williamson, and Lande, on melodica; "Sweet and Lovely," with its time rotating between 3/4 and 4/4; and "The Touch of Your Lips," with Williamson on flute.
Throughout, Williamson displays his command of alto sax, soprano sax, flute and bass clarinet. Standards? This album sets new standards. Standard Transmission
? More like overdrive. Give us more.