Jamie Saft/Steve Swallow/Bobby Previte The New Standard on 180g 2LP
While Jamie Saft has been a significant presence on previous RareNoise recordings by Slobber Pup, Plymouth and Metallic Taste of Blood, the renegade keyboardist and essential Downtown improviser steps into a dramatically different role on The New Standard. A collaborative trio outing featuring the dream rhythm tandem of drummer Bobby Previte and bassist Steve Swallow, both prolific composers and venerable bandleaders in their own right, it showcases Saft alternating between piano and organ and making thoughtful, melodic contributions throughout. On ten original tracks, seven of which the keyboardist composed, Saft blends brilliantly with his esteemed elders on this remarkable RareNoise release.
Though the three kindred spirits may not have played together before as a unit prior to this recording, their connections run deep and their chemistry in the studio was immediate. Saft, who first met Previte in 1993 when he was hired to play in the drummer's band Weather Clear, Track Fast, calls The New Standard "100% collaborative." Master bassist Swallow, whose track record includes landmark jazz recordings with the likes of George Russell, Jimmy Giuffre, Gary Burton, Paul Bley, Art Farmer, Chico Hamilton, Stan Getz, Steve Kuhn, Carla Bley and John Scofield as well as several of his own recordings as a leader, had previously recorded and toured in Previte's Bump quintet beginning in 2003. 5 time Grammy winning engineer Joe Ferla, who is regarded as the fourth member of the band for this remarkably empathetic session, had been working with Previte for decades.
The New Standard opens with Saft's relaxed swinger "Clarissa," which is fueled by Swallow's unerring bass pulse and Previte's slick brushwork on the kit. This perfect introduction to the triumvirate leads into another Saft composition, "Minor Soul," which is rendered with all the patience and downhome quality of vintage Wynton Kelly or Junior Mance piano trios. "Step Lively" is a more buoyant rumba-boogie number paced by Previte and Swallow. Jamie's organ makes its first appearance on the gospel-tinged number "Clearing," which bears not a small resemblance to one of Jamie's significant influences, The Band. "Trek" opens with Previte's drum ‘n' bugle corps cadence on the kit, setting a compelling foundation for the piano trio piece that follows.
The title track is a showcase for Swallow's signature melodic playing on the electric bass guitar while the uptempo swinger "I See No Leader" has Previte setting the pace with his insistent ride cymbal work."Blue Shuffle" opens with some bluesy solo organ by Saft before the trio settles into an early ‘60s organ lounge vibe with Swallow walking on bass and Previte providing a supple backbeat for the dancers. "All Things to All People" is a throbbing race on the B-3 fueled by Previte's jungle drums and the closer, "Surrender the Chaise," is an intimate, slightly melancholy piano trio number that sounds like one of Chopin's nocturnes as played by Bill Evans. Swallow adds a solo on this closing number that is a sheer masterpiece of melody.