Featuring 12 of Carl Saunders’ finest songs and the consistently brilliant playing of Christian Jacob, New Jazz Standards delivers in a special way!
Christian Jacob, piano
Darek Oles, bass
Joe LaBarbera, drums
Carl Saunders is one of the world’s great jazz trumpeters, a super technician who is a masterful improviser with his own sound. In his career he has performed with a countless number of jazz greats.
This recording (and Series) feature Saunders’ originals taken from his New Jazz Standards book. “I have been writing tunes all of my life,” says the trumpeter-composer. “I had many of them sitting by the piano, unorganized and looking like a bit of a mess. I finally decided to print them out and organize them in a folder and finally publishing them into a book which I called New Jazz Standards which has over 300 songs.”
“I let the artists pick whatever tunes they want to do from the book and interpret them in their own style.” The rewarding series has thus far showcased quite an array of talent, starting with flutist Sam Most and continuing with sets starring trombonist Scott Whitfield, pianist Roger Kellaway, and guitarist Larry Koonse.
For Vol. 5, Carl Saunders wanted to feature pianist Christian Jacob. “He’s one of the very best, a complete classical musician who has mastered jazz.”
Multi-Grammy nominated Christian Jacob, who was born in France, studied classical music from the age of four and was considered a child prodigy but became attracted to jazz and improvisation by the time he was ten. He not only attended the Berklee College of Music but won a series of awards as a student and for a time taught at the college. He gained his initial fame in the jazz world when he played and arranged for some of the great.
The pianist suggested that bassist Darek Oles be part of this project. Oles has made many recordings including sets with Brad Mehldau and Charles Lloyd.
Saunders says “Christian and I decided on the great Joe LaBarbera for the drum duties who is one of the most musical drummers on the scene. When you listen to him play music comes out of his drums.
Since branching off from his work as part of vocalist Tierney Sutton’s band, pianist Christian Jacob has formed a trio with fellow Angelenos Joe LaBarbera/dr and Darek Oles/b to delve into various “songbooks” of overlooked composers. For this album, he focuses on the pen of LA trumpeter Carl Saunders, reflecting a side of the horn man that is vastly underappreciated.
The songs are all strong on melody, and always with a marrow of swing with deft fingerplay by Jacob on “August In New York” and the hp “Admired”. LaBarbera digs in with Oles on “The Hipper They Are the Harder they Fall” while his brushes dance like Astaire on “Complex Simplicity”. There’s an attractive soul pulse to “Silver Ambience”, with the sticks getting kinetic on “Dark Blanket” and the team building up to a double time dash to the finish line on “A Pill For Bill”. Jacob closes out with a glorious solo on “Encore”, making you wonder why Saunders’ pen is not known as well as his sword.
The latest edition of Saunders taking us through his back pages features piano man Jacob leading the way with Oles and LaBarbara rounding out the trio. Jacob has more than proven himself as the kind of cat that it pays to lead where he follows so there’s no risk in checking this set out. A killer trio that plays like they’ve always known their métier, they could go out as a band anytime. A real treat that even being new to the trumpeter’s songbook can’t deter, this classy crew has it all on the ball throughout.
-Chris Spector for Midwest Review
Christian Jacob, piano; Darek Oles, bass; Joe Labarbera, drums.
Trumpeter Carl Saunders is one of the jazz world’s great technicians, a composer and improviser.
“I have been writing tunes all of my life. I had many of them sitting by the piano, unorganized and looking like a bit of a mess. I finally decided to print them out and organize them in a folder. … Finally published them into a book which I call New Jazz Standards, which has over 300 songs. I let the artists pick whatever tunes they want to do from the book and interpret them in their own style,” Carl Saunders explained.
That’s how this wonderful album of music was created by French classical and jazz pianist, Christian Jacob, talented bassist Darek Oles and legendary drummer, Joe LaBarbera. They open with “August in New York” at a moderate but swinging pace. Another of the twelve Saunders’ tunes is one called “A Ballad for Pete Candoli.” It’s a very beautiful ballad celebrating this iconic jazz trumpeter who played with both the Stan Kenton and Woody Herman big bands. I enjoy the sensitive, light, airy touch Jacob has on piano. His fingers seem to be skipping over the notes, free as uninhibited children at play. Next, the trio breaks into a three-four tune titled “Zig Zag Waltz.” All the Saunders’ tunes are melodic and leave plenty of room for the musicians to explore, improvise and express themselves. Oles offers a brief but awesome bass solo. LaBarbera solidifies the waltz, first with brushes and then builds the excitement, ending with cymbals ringing and sticks flying.
The composition titled, “The Hipper They Are the Harder They Fall” is straight-ahead bliss. In fact, every tune on this CD is brilliantly interpreted and the trio arrangements offer something for everyone’s pleasure and enjoyment. Other Favorites are: “A Pill for Bill” that races across space like lightening; “Dark Blanket” is a composition warm as a wool poncho and “Sweetness” is a sugar-soaked ballad begging for lyrics. Each of the Saunders compositions light up the universe, bright stars on the horizon. To me, they sound like jazz standards.