The timeless nature of jazz ensures that there’s no literal sonic era-specific “stamp” on any recording. An album recorded 20, 30…even 60 years ago can sound as good and have as much emotional impact as a session recorded last month. This wondrous reality works to the great benefit of well-traveled veteran guitarist Henry Robinett, whose engaging, wildly swinging and adventurously arranged new quartet release Jazz Standards, Volume 1 was recorded back in 2000.
The classically trained guitarist’s decades long road through jazz has incorporated a multitude of styles – he cites everyone from Hendrix to Charles Mingus as influences – and he felt that these 10 incredible re-imaginings was “too different” from his other work. The turn of the century’s loss is 2020’s gain, as he, pianist Joe Gilman, bassist Chris Symer and drummer Michael Stephans romp through a batch of oft-covered and more obscure standards (“I Hear A Rhapsody,” “Yellow Days,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Invitation,” Wayne Shorter’s “Pinocchio”) with a brisk, soulful energy that taps into what surely were the composers’ deeper creative intentions.
With fluid lead melody lines and dynamic solos (particularly by the otherworldly Gilman) throughout, the collection captures the spirit of musicians having a blast while also paying homage to a batch of the jazz greats he has long admired. Perhaps the delay was serendipitous.
No time like the present to remind the world of the joys of organic, live jazz and songs that define a gentler simpler time in our history. Happily, Robinett plans to release several more sets of more recently recorded jazz standards, starting with Volume 2: Then Again in the near future.