Not to be confused with a seminal 1990s Herbie Hancock record of the same name, erstwhile John Zorn sideman Jamie Saft, Giuffre veteran and latterday Impossible Gentleman the great Steve Swallow, and hipster rhythm rainmaker drummer Bobby Previte, who included Saft in his Coalition of the Willing band, fire up a storm here on an album mostly made up of Saft’s fine tunes. The album gets into the zone on ‘Minor Soul’ after a swinging start on ‘Clarissa’, Previte stroking the band home. Pretty much rhythm section heaven throughout but nothing flashy Saft thrives on the beat and plays his socks off, churchy and down home on the band-written gem ‘Step Lively’, the piano exuding a rudimental vibration, Swallow bumping the band along from the bass drum up. ‘Clearing’ has some magisterial organ and a surprising grandeur to it that takes you back to some beyond-genre organ-availing prog and ’baroque’ rock records made in the 60s even though this is an out-and-out jazz record of considerable class that ultimately makes you want to listen to a lot of Ray Charles records as well as of course hitting replay once the 10 tracks are up.
Previte takes a fine solo at the beginning of ‘Trek’, Swallow knitting in, while Saft is subtle when he enters. The title track has an agenda-setting bass guitar melody line at the beginning, Saft taking up the momentum with the swinging ‘I See No Leader’ those four words in the tune title could well be the maxim for this democratic album where all three are as one and egos are checked at the door (at least you feel that as a listener).
The New Standard really moves Saft centre stage as a writer as much as an intuitive new star of the organ (he’s already under the radar on some extraordinary records including Dave Douglas’ Freak In more than a decade ago now). But this record will do him no end of good in the limelight. And it’s a joy to hear Previte on infectious form, while Swallow seems to be enjoying himself on material that is not meant to be a stretch for him compared to say the Impossible Gentlemen charts or his work with Carla Bley. Saft is also on the very different new album Plymouth, which shows his considerable range. SG
Released in May
Top: Bobby Previte, above left, Jamie Saft, and Steve Swallow photo: Scott Irvine © 2014 and above the cover of The New Standard
updated with photography credit