In offering rationales for the 20 year delay between recording and releasing, veteran guitarist Henry Robinett almost seems apologetic in his brief but heartfelt liner notes to Jazz Standards, Volume 2: Then Again, the masterful, dynamically swinging follow-up/sequel session to his quartet’s equally soulful and bustling 2020 set Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then.
He need not be. Everything comes in good time, patience is a virtue and all that – but mostly, it’s because the timeless genius of his ensemble (pianist Joe Gilman, bassist Chris Symer and drummer Michael Stephans) is as impactful in the third decade of the 21st century as it would have been had they come out 20 years ago, when the group recorded these high-spirited collections. The story goes that at a juncture when the busy guitarist – who has fronted his regular crew The Henry Robinett Group for years now - was between albums and bands, he brought together these top-flight Northern California musicians for an impromptu session.
Perhaps not so incredibly considering just how adaptable great jazzers are to fresh arrangements on an array of classic material, they recorded both albums in just two days. An air of freshness and spontaneity prevails throughout the “new” dozen jams, starting with the high energy opening romp “Yours Is My Heart Alone” and along the way including a sly wink and snappy stroll “On the Street Where You Live” and a speedy, percussive twist on “It Could Happen to You.”
It’s not all 100 mph, though, as Robinett and company’s most emotional moments emerge via the eloquence of “Body and Soul” (fashioned as a sweet piano-guitar duet) and the tender, lightly jaunty “Darn That Dream.” They close with a crafty two fisted coda of more angular and slightly more envelope pushing Monk tunes, a cool float through the dreamscape of “Monk’s Mood” and the joyfully busy yet ultra-intricate “Sf Holiday (Worry Later).”