We should all be as comfortable in our own skin as Jamie Saft. Zen-like tranquility emanates from his music no matter the form of his projects: the ambient ensemble Plymouth, solo piano, vocals by Iggy Pop on Loneliness Road (RareNoise, 2017), or a small combo like his quartet. This multi- instrumentalist/composer is so secure in his identity that he can participate to the fullest, perfectly confident that his personality will permeate his contributions.
You Don't Know The Life mirrors The New Standard (RareNoise, 2014), Saft's last instrumental three-piece work. Befitting such a Renaissance man of modern jazz, here Saft avails himself of Hammond and Whitehall organs plus the Baldwin electric harpsichord, with its often abrasive tones dominating a transformation of Bill Evans's "Re: Person I Knew."
Saft has proven his broad taste in the past, so the novel cover material tendered here is hardly starling. The title tune comes from guitarist Billy Gibbons's pre-ZZ Top band Moving Sidewalks. It precedes a succinct take on the standard "Moonlight in Vermont." The juxtaposition of this time-honored number with more more contemporary material such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David's theme for the film Alfie offers an honestly sentimental closing to this record. Such heartrending stuff is often saccharine, but in the hands of Jamie Saft the earnest emotion underlying the tunes arises from the interpretation and cuts to the quick.
Even as Saft takes the lead, his comrades Bobby Previte on drums and bassist Steve Swallow are equally assertive in their playingif somewhat unobtrusively on "Dark Squares." Swallow and Previte maintain as healthy a detachment from the material as the bandleader: the ominous atmosphere conjured on a self-composed track like "Water From Breath" contrasts with more conventionally-structured compositions, as does the sudden change of pace on Roswell Rudd's cryptically-titled "Ode to A Green Frisbee."
As with most of Jamie Saft's records, the interweaving of originals and covers is a mark of the artistry at work on You Don't Know The Life. Together, Saft and his like-minded compatriots create music that runs a remarkably broad gamut of emotions in about 40 minutes, from the headlong drive of "Stable Manifold" to the openness of "The Break of the Flat Land." The arc of feeling goes so deep that a listener might end up equally drained and enlivened by this trio's own journey through the heart, soul, and beyond.
Re: Person I Know; Dark Squares; Water From Breath; You Don't Know the Life; Ode To A Green Frisbee; The Cloak; Stable Manifold; The Break Of The Flat Land; Moonlight In Vermont; Alfie.
Jamie Saft: Hammond organ, Whitehall organ, Baldwin electric harpsichord; Steve Swallow: electric bass; Bobby Previte: drums.
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