406

The Nuttree Quartet (John Abercrombie / Jerry Bergonzi / Adam Nussbaum / Gary Versace): Standards

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The Nuttree Quartet (John Abercrombie / Jerry Bergonzi / Adam Nussbaum / Gary Versace): Standards With the plethora of discs released every year that over-mine the standards repertoire, it's easy to forget that there was a time when an album called Standards would not be considered almost a dirty word. Saxophonist David Liebman's recently unearthed Pendulum Live at the Village Vanguard (Mosaic, 2008) is one such example. Drummer Adam Nussbaum, figurative leader of The Nuttree Quartet and occasional Liebman collaborator, may not demonstrate quite the same visceral energy on Standards, but there's still plenty of heat. This collection of ten well and lesser known covers, recorded over two wintery days at bassist Jay Anderson's studio with three good friends, makes a compelling case for their continuing appeal to musicians who may often be heard in more progressive contexts, but for whom this material still holds plenty of challenge and grist.



The members of The Nuttree Quartet have all worked with each other in different contexts—including organist Gary Versace and Nussbaum in guitarist John Abercrombie's organ trio when original keyboardist Dan Wall gave up the road a few years back—just not together as a quartet. Still, the shared chemistry that's evolved over the years is evident from the first notes of "Our Love is Here to Stay," a Gershwin tune treated with an appropriate mix of respect and irreverence, especially when a whole tone vamp takes it out with unexpected fire as Bergonzi and Abercrombie generate some linear heat over Nussbaum and Versace's powerful backbone.



Versace, as comfortable with John Scofield's soulful Music of Ray Charles tour as he is applying Western harmonies to guitarist Rez Abbasi's Indo-centric Bazaar (Zoho, 2006), is equally at home here, with an arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" that retains its familiar melody and base changes, but is so radically reharmonized as to sound as though it were written yesterday. His extended solo—equal parts direct lyricism and abstract impressionism—proves there's plenty of life left in a song that's well over six decades old.



Wayne Shorter's iconic "Footprints" receives a high velocity treatment here, with Nussbaum's two solos—one at the intro and later, after solos from his cohorts that culminate in a turn of breathtaking intensity from saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi—are a near-perfect combination of polyrhythmic and melodic invention. His kit is so beautifully tuned (and recorded, as is the entire quartet) that the changes and familiar bass line are always implied and, at times, clearly heard; a marvel that makes him more than a just a rhythmic anchor, but a melodic counterpoint throughout the session.



Abercrombie, the quartet's most visible member, has long relied on standards for a practice tool at home, and listening to Standards it's clear why. The best in forward-reaching music comes from knowledge of what's come before, and The Nuttree Quartet lives comfortably in both spaces, delivering a set of certain appeal to fans of the tradition while providing no shortage of meat for those more disposed to music with a modern edge.



Visit John Abercrombie, Jerry Bergonzi, Adam Nussbaum and Gary Versace on the web.


Track Listing: Our Love is Here to Stay; Come Sunday; Footprints; Sometime Ago; Witchcraft; Israel; Eronel; All or Nothing at All; 12 Bars to Go; Naima.

Personnel: John Abercrombie: guitar; Jerry Bergonzi: tenor saxophone; Adam Nussbaum: drums; Gary Versace: Hammond B3 organ.

Title: Standards | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Kind of Blue Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Good Merlin CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Z Octet" CD/LP/Track Review Z Octet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "Hear & Now" CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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