All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

14

The New York Standards Quartet: The New Straight Ahead

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
The New York Standards Quartet (NYSQ) delivers their fourth overall album and their first for the Whirlwind Recording label on The New Straight Ahead, where the band offers a repertoire of ten familiar songs presented with a new modern twist which, incidentally, has become the group's raison d'etre. Founded in 2006, NYSQ have focused their musical efforts on taking old pop and Broadway show tunes and giving them a new radical design by tweaking the melodies and reconstructing harmonies to present straight ahead standards in an all new fashion.

Though reimagining oft-recorded standards is not a new formula, since it's been done so often by many other artists, the approach applied here—a sometimes drastic re-work of the melody and structure of a song—tends to make such standards sound all most new. Such is the case with Herbie Hancock's "The Maze," which opens up with a strong bass introduction from Daiki Yasukagawa then hands it off to the band with Tim Armacost leading the way on the tenor in a burner of a rendition.

Armacost's unrecognizable soprano solo introduction to Duke Ellington's classic "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), is just the beginning of a terrific tune that, with the improvisations and direction-changing choruses, sounds nowhere near the standard one is used to hearing but, is nevertheless incredibly engaging. Pianist David Berkman opens up the beautiful standard "When You Wish Upon a Star" playing the familiar melody on the intro before the band takes it into new territory for another "Whirlwind" version.

The most important non-American standard penned by French Composer Joseph Kosma as "Les Feuilles Mortes" (The Dead Leaves), forever known as "Autumn Leaves," starts a new with a firm drum solo from Gene Jackson then develops nicely from its recognizable melody and evolves into an upbeat peppery tune departing drastically from the original balladic foundation of the song.

Other notable tracks include "Zingaro," "Misterioso" and "Remember" with short vignettes "Intro (Polka dots)" and "Outro (Moonbeams)," from Jimmy Van Heusen's "Polka dots and Moonbeams" opening and closing the album. One thing is for certain, The New Straight Ahead is firmly grounded in the straight ahead tradition and beyond that, one will find that the music of NYSQ does more than cast old standards with new arrangements, they give old tunes new life, new meaning an a new reason for hearing them again.

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 Shades CD/LP/Track Review
Shades
by Doug Collette
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Putumayo Presents: Ska Around the World CD/LP/Track Review
Putumayo Presents: Ska Around the World
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Pattern Recognition CD/LP/Track Review
Pattern Recognition
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Just This CD/LP/Track Review
Just This
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Live at Sowieso CD/LP/Track Review
Live at Sowieso
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Displaced Diaspora CD/LP/Track Review
Displaced Diaspora
by Chris May
Published: October 19, 2018
Read "Straight Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Straight Forward
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 14, 2018
Read "Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets" CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Kill The Boy" CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Whispers And Cries" CD/LP/Track Review Whispers And Cries
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!" CD/LP/Track Review You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "After Caroline" CD/LP/Track Review After Caroline
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 24, 2018