StandArt

StandArt

Piano virtuoso Tigran Hamasyan, a native of Armenia, gained major early career exposure in the US and has worked with many top American jazz players, including bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Justin Brown on this album. StandArt, however, is his first recorded encounter with standards of the Great American Songbook, as well as bebop staples like Charlie Parker’s “Big Foot” and Elmo Hope’s “De-Dah.” Look away from the playlist and it will be hard to recognize “Laura” in Hamasyan’s maximalist treatment, full of rhythmic complexities, extensive reharmonization, and masking of the main melody. “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” reworked as a slinky slow jam, is somewhat more straightforward (at least until the bridge). Two duets, with tenor saxophonist Mark Turner on “All the Things You Are” and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire on “I Should Care,” are sparser and more streamlined though still inventively conceived. “Big Foot,” with tenor star Joshua Redman aboard, is the one straight-up swinger. “When a Woman Loves a Man,” recorded by Billie Holiday in 1938 with Teddy Wilson, Lester Young, and the famed Count Basie rhythm section, is a striking choice: historic but lesser-known, it works nicely as a modern waltz, with Brown on brushes softening the arrangement’s angular edges.

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