Herbie Hancock ‘The New Standard’

‘The New Standard’ was issued in 1996 and contained Herbie’s reimagining of tunes by Nirvana, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Sade, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Eagles, Peter Gabriel, & Steely Dan. While on paper this may look like a setup for background music for The Weather Channel, remember you’re dealing with here, and he assembled a band to realize this vision that included Michael Brecker-tenor/soprano sax, John Scofield-guitar, Dave Holland-bass, Jack DeJohnette-drums, and Don Alias-percussion. Have no fear that this isn’t a killer jazz record through and through—in most cases, the most recognizable hook of each song’s melody is only briefly referenced. Then it’s off to the races, as Herbie & Co lead us into an alternate universe where the jazz inclinations of Prince or Donald Fagen & Walter Becker are amplified, and jazz possibilities previously unexplored in the writing of Kurt Cobain or Don Henley are given a day in court. Great record. The first Japanese pressing of the CD has a bonus disc containing several live tracks that are also pretty fantastic. This 2019 pressing from Universal Korea was pressed at Pallas on 2 LPs and sounds terrific—recommended. Long may you run Herbie

Phil Woods ‘Warm Woods’

Phil Woods ‘Warm Woods’ is of the greatest jazz releases on @epicrecords and the perfect soundtrack to this blustery, chilly day here in New York. Ignore the review at All Music Guide, which is numerically inconsistent with its verbiage, and both are inconsistent with the quality of this set, which is SUPERB. Woods has a beautiful, unique, recognizable tone on alto sax “Dr. Wu”…’nuff said), and he leads a fine quartet here that includes Bob Corwin-piano, Sonny Dallas-bass, and Nick Stabulas-drums. All of the material is either ballad or mid-tempo, and except for two original compositions by Woods, the rest of the program is comprised of standards. While tempos may not get your heart racing, the amount of heart that’s poured into every performance is HUGE, and if some of these pieces don’t give you a big case of the feels, you might want to step away from ‘Tiger King’ for a little while and get into some deep headphone/jazz communion to recharge your soul. The two sessions for this LP were recorded in October and November of 1957, and the album was issued the following year. This pressing is a Japanese reissue from 1973, ECPZ-8, mono. I like how this sounds in mono, though I’ve not heard a stereo pressing to compare. It was reissued on vinyl in the 1980s with a different cover, and various CD issues over the years have matched it with other sessions and/or bonus tracks. I do not see it on digital platforms…will have to see if something can be done about that as more ears need to hear this one