While the songs featured on Standards 2, Movie Music
were given an initial audience through the medium of film, some of them have led a fruitful existence beyond the borders of the silver screen. Some melodieslike Tara's Theme," from 1939's Gone With The Wind
will always be associated with their point of origin, but much of Cole Porter's catalog, including the two inclusions on this album ("Night And Day" and "I Concentrate On You"), is more familiar to current audiences than the films that spawned these standards. This quartet treats both types of material with equal respect as it plies its trade with the utmost care.
The "2" in the title presents this album as a sequel of sorts, following on the heels of the Grammy
(Fuzzy Music, 2008), but a few major differences in personnel set this album apart. Drummer Peter Erskine
and pianist Alan Pasqua
continue their fruitful partnership, but the bass chair, which was left vacant when Dave Carpenter
passed away suddenly in 2008, is now filled by Darek Oles
. While this changes the group dynamic in certain, minor ways, the addition of tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer
is the bigger game changer. Mintzer adds different layers of emotion, from jubilant soloing ("Cinema Paradiso") to haunting melodism ("Rosemary's Baby"), and his sound and overall conception fit perfectly within this group.
Each piece on this album retains its core essence, but these four musicians also manage to bring something new into the picture. The sense of drama that was overstressed on the original recording of "Tara's Theme" is completely gone, with a nonchalant, easy swinging attitude in its place, while "Somewhere" is shrouded in the mist given off by Erskine's sizzle cymbal. Erskine possesses the most finely calibrated ride cymbal pulse of any drummer in the business, and this helps to provide a comfortable rhythmic ride whenever he leans on this skill.
The other three members of the band have a chance to shine, sans-Erskine, on the sunny introduction to "Cinema Paradiso." Mintzer swoons over Pasqua's piano, and Oles is almost invisible, save for his seamlessly subtle arco backing. "Night And Day" is the most oft-covered selection on the album, but it also turns out to be the most wholly integrated quartet performance. Erskine provides a calypso groove that detours into swing, and a snare-based solo that speaks of Brazilian carnivals. Pasqua and Mintzer provide disjunct introductory material that gets in line when the quartet starts to move as one while, all the while, Oles resides in the background, holding it all together.
Like its predecessor, Standards 2, Movie Music
benefits from the KMF Audio microphones used to record the album, but the recording ultimately boils down to the musicianship. Microphones can only take in what musicians put out, and this quartet delivers solid gold.