Various Artists

The Other Side of Standards

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The title The Other Side of Standards implies that this compilation, which came out in 1999, is more radical and unorthodox than it actually is. Focusing on artists who recorded for the New York-based Palmetto label in the '90s, this is primarily an album of straight-ahead hard boppers and post-boppers interpreting familiar songs. None of these recordings are innovative by '90s standards, and most of them recall the straight-ahead jazz of the '50s and '60s. Of course, not every jazz artist has to be cutting-edge -- traditionalism and innovation both have their place, and these recordings are mostly traditional in their outlook. Highlights of this enjoyable, if conventional, release range from organist Greg Hatza's soul-jazz version of "Georgia on My Mind" to saxman Joel Frahm's interpretation of Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" and the Rumba Club's Latin jazz take on "The Meaning of the Blues." Tenor titan Dewey Redman can be quite daring and experimental, but on "I Should Care," he avoids outside playing and lets his romantic side take over. When the CD is finished playing, the listener is left with a favorable impression of Palmetto -- a label that wasn't cutting-edge, but could usually be counted on to provide decent straight-ahead jazz.

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