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  • Jonathan Widran


A grand, multi-faceted and expansive showcase of two popular mainstays on the Indianapolis jazz scene, saxophonist Rob Dixon and pianist Steve Allee’s quintet project Standards Deluxe rolls essentially like two completely different yet somehow musically and spiritually connected EPs showcasing guest talents (from outside Indy), sultry and supple voiced, sweetly swinging singer Amanda King and trumpeter Derrick Gardner.

The first six tracks find the Dixon/Allee quartet (featuring bassist Nick Tucker and drummer Greg Artry) providing alternately subtle and playfully swinging backup (and occasional emotional, hard hitting solos by the principals) for King, whose set list – true to the album’s title concept – features everything from Ellington’s “Caravan” and Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” to “Sway” and Gershwin’s :Our Love Is Here to Stay.”

Then it’s as if King gracefully exits the stage and Gardner’s horn takes over the lead spot (with Kenny Phelps on drums) for the seductive yet frequently burning “Deluxe” portion of the session, which features five Dixon originals – including the soulful, lyrical “One Hundred” (featuring burning sax and trumpet solos), the lighthearted brassy swinger “Lucky Number 7” and snazzy, jumpin’, solo fired and filled “Flat Tire Blues.” Coming full circle, the quartet wraps with a romp through “Caravan” that’s as energetic and fiery as King version is romantic and sensual.


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