Monday, October 31, 2011

Ted Rosenthal: Out Of This World

Ted Rosenthal (piano)
Out Of This World (Playscape Recordings)
Noriko Ueda (bass)
Quincy Davis (drums)

It is difficult to judge a standards album sometimes. Many argue, "why repeat perfection?" Or "that version doesn't sound as good as the original?" Well, those are obviously the wrong/thick-headed way of thinking about standards material done by new artists, especially over the last 20 years. But similar to David Berkman's NY Standards Quartet releases, pianist Ted Rosenthal has done a wonderful job re-imagining ten standards in his own vision.

Throughout his entire career, Rosenthal has been able to travel between various settings and arrangements. Whether it's with legends like Gerry Mulligan or Benny Golson, or with his trio through classical compositions on his last record, Impromptu, he turns the pieces into his own and add a new vitality to them that is intoxicating and engaging.

On The Rosenthal Trio's newest release, Out Of This World, Rosenthal continues with his previous trio lineup which balances a tight and well-woven relationship with the timeless history they are re-interpreting. Opening with the title track written by Mercer & Arlen, Rosenthal and Co. sound fresh and pepper the piece with colourful shades of happiness. Ueda's bass is pounding with bright tones like the sound of a good Ray Brown beat.  Cole Porter's "So In Love" swings with a happy beat and Ueda and Rosenthal have a comfortable banter that make it a festive listen.

"Embraceable You" stays relatively intact with Gershwin's arrangement, but here Rosenthal and Davis add a feather like touch that lets you close your eyes and slowly drift away with the notes. "Cry Me a River" while exuberant, has a humble and blues-like manner that is delicious to the ear. Rosenthal delivers a mixture of Cedar Walton, Ahmad Jamal and Thelonious Monk all the while shining with his own voice and texture.

Out Of This World has all the designs of a beautiful club date - Vibrant, exciting and bouncing with energy that really gets a crowd hoppin'. But what makes this studio session so remarkable is the creative manner in which Rosenthal, Davis and Ueda work with such sweet unison that the tunes have urgency and new life. This is a real sleeper of a record that would really benefit any one's record collection.

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