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  • Jonathan Widran

MIKE PACHELLI, High Standards

Usually the term “happy jazz” is used by folks who want to knock the mostly peppy and lighthearted smooth jazz vibe, but that phrase also perfectly fits the decidedly cheerful set list on veteran guitarist Mike Pachelli’s absolutely intoxicating, blues-rock-jazz influenced new album High Standards.

This movin’, quick groovin’, deeply soulful jam took shape when Pachelli was on tour with fellow guitar great Phil Keaggy, drummer Jerry Marotta and legendary bassist Tony Levin. Pachelli asked Levin if he might want to play a track on his next album. Levin’s response – “Let’s do an entire album!” – was the gateway to this collection of cool divine trio madness with drummer Danny Gottlieb.

Combining dynamic jazz virtuosity with vibrant, infectious swing, engaging wit and seriously good cheer, Pachelli and company zig and zag through a variety of tempos while grinning through the uplifting standards “When You’re Smiling, “Whistle While You Work,” “What a Wonderful World,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and lesser known gems like “These Are Soulful Days” (first recorded by organist Don Patterson) and Neal Hefti’s spirited “Cute,” originally an arrangement for Count Basie. As an added treat, the trio invites Keb’ Mo’ to contribute his multiple shades of amazing in a duet setting on the fiery Pachelli original “Yardbird Blues.”

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