Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
158

John Stetch: Standards

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
John Stetch: Standards For pianist John Stetch, Standards is just as much about reinterpreting as reinventing. Quite literally. His second solo piano recording after last year's totally unexpected Ukranianism takes on the full range of the jazz canon, from the relatively obscure (Charlie Parker's "Segment") to the downright promiscuous ("Stella By Starlight"). He seems to delight in plying a totally different angle with each piece, as if he's afraid he might grow stale if he got stuck in any kind of rut. That works just fine, since Stetch's imagination knows few bounds.

The opener, "Segment," is an exercise in swinging pointillism. Using very few notes, none of which are held, Stetch dances around Parker's theme. Despite the easy feel of the piece's rhythm, it becomes immediately clear that the pianist has a nearly compulsive interest in timing. This unswerving devotion to metrics echoes the stoicism of early 20th century classical music—or the early music of Cecil Taylor, for that matter. But Stetch's attention to detail pays off in the big picture. When the piece dashes off to its crashing climax, it seems like a sort of odd symmetry has been achieved.

Every published review of this record will mention "All The Things You Are," guaranteed. And Stetch's version is truly remarkable. Basically he runs the melody backward with respect to the harmony, yielding a creature that seems oddly at once familiar and alien. Rippling and coursing along its path, he revels in drama and more than a pinch of dissonance. You will never hear another version of this very popular standard that bears such a distinctive touch.

Beyond that, the record opens up and Stetch chases into any number of curious alleyways. He waxes lyrical, rippling along gently arpeggiated chords; then moments later tears up counterpoint and syncopation in a feast of two-handed Monkishness. While Standards may be a study in contrasts, it's readily apparent that John Stetch has invested a great deal both personally and artistically into each new exploration. He seems to be chafing at the bit, looking for holes in the fabric, grasping for a new handle. It will be very interesting to see where the next step in his solo piano cycle leads.

Visit Justin Time on the web.


Track Listing: Segment; All The Things You Are; Interlude; Out Of Nowhere; Like Someone In Love; Embraceable You; Moose the Mooche; Never Let Me Go; Pannonica; Stella By Starlight.

Personnel: John Stetch: solo piano.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Justin Time Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
TV Trio
TV Trio
Self Produced
2009
buy
Bruxin'
Bruxin'
Justin Time Records
2006
buy
Exponentially Monk
Exponentially Monk
Justin Time Records
2004
buy
Standards
Standards
Justin Time Records
2003
buy
Ukrainianism
Ukrainianism
Justin Time Records
2002
buy
Heavens of a Hundred Days
Heavens of a Hundred...
Justin Time Records
2001
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Stan Getz Stan Getz
sax, tenor
Brad Mehldau Brad Mehldau
piano
Bill Charlap Bill Charlap
piano
Phil Woods Phil Woods
sax, alto
Anita O'Day Anita O'Day
vocalist
John Chin
piano
Frank Hewitt Frank Hewitt
piano

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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