Palmetto Records, a relatively new label with a strong early track record, showcases its impressive roster of artists on The Other Side of Standards,
whose inventory of songs certainly widens the definition of the word “standard.” No question that “I Should Care” (performed by Dewey Redman) and “Georgia on My Mind” (the Greg Hatza ORGANization) belong there, and perhaps “Hey There“ (the Matt Wilson Quartet), but to label the others “standards” is stretching the point. Definitions aside, the music is on the whole quite pleasing and extremely well–played. There are nine songs in all, each performed by a different group on the mid–price CD. Redman, a master of every style, plays it wonderfully straight on the ballad selection from his album Dewey Redman in London.
While no one else strays far from the pathway, neither are they a company of musical clones. Hatza’s organ–led quintet is the funkiest, while the Latin Jazz Orchestra (“The Cobra”) and New York–based Rumba Club (“The Meaning of the Blues”) represent our neighbors to the south. Alto saxophonist Frahm, who opened some eyes at the 1996 Thelonious Monk competition, is abundantly soulful on Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes.” There are two piano–led quintets, and each is first–class, with David Berkman blazing on Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane” (which precedes Rumba Club’s “Blues,” not as listed on the jacket) and Steve Million wrapping things up with an easygoing treatment of Monk’s “Boo Boo’s Birthday” (featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Chris Potter). The other selections are performed by Wilson’s quartet (“Hey There”) and a quintet led by guitarist Matt Balitsaris and vibraphonist Jeff Berman (Wayne Shorter’s “Fall”). Whoever chose the tunes for this recording should be congratulated; it’s a splendid overview of what Palmetto has to offer.
Track listing: Soul Eyes; I Should Care; The Cobra; Fall; Hey There; Georgia on My Mind; The Meaning of the Blues; Take the Coltrane; Boo Boo’s Birthday (54:20).