All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

13

The New York Standards Quartet: The New Straight Ahead

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
The New York Standards Quartet (aka the NYSQ) formed around 2006, its members sharing a love of standards played with a contemporary edge. This, the band's fourth album, is called The New Straight Ahead. As band name and album title suggest, this is a collection of straight-ahead standards, given new arrangements and "redesigns" by the quartet.

Re-inventing the standards can be fraught with difficulties—these tunes are, after all, much loved in their original or classic incarnations. Changing tempos or altering time signatures can also impact on the emotional qualities of a tune. The NYSQ is inventive enough to give these familiar compositions a few new angles, but it's also intelligent enough to know how far to push things. The arrangements on The New Straight Ahead (each credited to the quartet as a whole) offer some new perspectives on some very well-known tunes, but never get so radical as to render them unrecognisable.

Herbie Hancock's "The Maze" opens with Daiki Yasukagawa's powerful unaccompanied bass solo before settling into a more recognisable version of the tune. Tim Armacost's soprano sax is featured on "It Don't Mean A Thing," the quartet finding that swing to be a fairly gentle shuffle.

Courtesy of Gene Jackson's hard hitting drums and Yaukagawa's bass groove "Autumn Leaves" gets down and funky—probably the most extreme re-interpretation on the album. Armacost moves to tenor sax for Leigh Harline's "When You Wish Upon A Star." David Berkman's piano sets the mood, crafting a version that (for those who don't immediately see images of an irritating little cricket) emphasises the tune's romance and sense of longing. Jimmy Van Heusen's "Polkadots And Moonbeams" makes two appearances: as "Intro (Polkadots)" and "Outro (and Moonbeams)." Each lasts less than a minute: laid-back, almost sleepy, tenor/piano duets.

One quibble with presentation—there are no composer credits on the sleeve. It seems only polite to acknowledge the creators of these tunes, however well-known they may be to fans of the music. After all, without the old straight-ahead there would be no The New Straight Ahead—and that would be a pity.

Track Listing: Intro (Polkadots); The Maze; It Don't Mean A Thing; When You Wish Upon A Star; Autumn Leaves; Misterioso; Ah-leu-cha; Zingaro; Remember; Outro (and Moonbeams).

Personnel: Tim Armacost: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; David Berkman: piano; Daiki Yasukagawa: double bass; Gene Jackson: drums.

Title: The New Straight Ahead | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Music in Motian CD/LP/Track Review
Music in Motian
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Descansado - Songs For Films CD/LP/Track Review
Descansado - Songs For Films
by John Ephland
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Simbiose CD/LP/Track Review
Simbiose
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 18, 2018
Read For Lew CD/LP/Track Review
For Lew
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2018
Read "Cubist" CD/LP/Track Review Cubist
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 11, 2018
Read "Live In Europe" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Europe
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 28, 2017
Read "Fountain Of Youth" CD/LP/Track Review Fountain Of Youth
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Still Motion" CD/LP/Track Review Still Motion
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Live in Zürich" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Zürich
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 1, 2018
Read "Return To Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Return To Mind
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 8, 2018