I found it! Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the jazz release we have been waiting for. Straight ahead real jazz. It comes out of Chicago and might include the best saxophone/guitar duo since Stan Getz and Herb Ellis. It draws from traditional jazz with melodies over extended chords, but is very contemporary in its phrasing, pacing and presentation. The Many Faces by The New Standard Quintet is all you can ask for. After years of song crafting and stage experience, saxophonist Ken Partyka and guitarist Pat Fleming have found their unique voice in this all- instrumental collection of original songs. Ken Partyka and Pat Fleming lay the groundwork with supreme songwriting and top level musicianship. I don’t think these songs were written in one sitting because there seems to be a lot of thought and feeling in the compositions. The selections run the gamut and combine elements of fusion, bebop, bossa nova, modal jazz and even hints of R&B.
Ken Partyka’s flawless, comforting saxophone is smooth as silk and has that throaty tone that sounds like a human voice. You can almost hear the reed preparing itself for each note. Pat Fleming’s guitar work shows off a mastery of scales and modes but his unique twists take you to wonderful places. Both guys can tear it up but have the necessary nuances of the experts. The backing of drums, bass and piano/keyboard create a base that is both a solid foundation and a soft bed. But, there is no fluff here. The band simply gets down and keeps your emotions heightened. Ken and Pat are backed up by the best supporting cast since The Dick Van Dyke Show. With Tom Vaitsas on keyboards, Curt Bley on bass and Rick Vitek on drums, this group has it all. The chemistry of the players is evident from the first notes. These guys know how to play together and they also know how to get out of each other’s way when appropriate. And the production is totally pro.
As well as the aforementioned Stan Getz , I have to believe that Ken studied and was influenced by John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Wayne Shorter and Cannonball Adderley on sax as well as more contemporary players like Houston Person and David Sanborn. Likewise, Pat seems to thoroughly know and understand Herb Ellis, Pat Martino and John Abercrombie on guitar and probably even copped some licks from John McLaughlin and Pat Metheny. In fact, my guess is that Ken and Pat have probably listened to everything jazz and soaked it in so they could pour it out.
The term “jazz” has come to cover a lot of ground including avant-garde and even music without form and structure. But, this release brings it back home with a clear cut return to what made jazz great in the first place: a chance for the instrumentalists to strut their stuff and keep the groove groovin’! So, shake and stir the martinis and pop open the bottles of champagne. This CD is one of the finer things in life. My associate Brett Paley took a listen. He is not a jazz guy but he was understandably blown away. His description: “This is a staggering work of immense proportions. It is so good it should be illegal!”
If you can imagine going into a club and hearing smoky, get down jazz sounds, this is what you want to hear. This music is very urban, the sophisticated soul of jazz: cool, smooth, sexy, mature, ripping. Even people who don’t think they like jazz will like The Many Faces. The music is irresistible. Jazz is alive and kicking and in good hands. That is, when it is in the hands of The New Standard Quintet. You can purchase the CD at www.newstandardlive.com or on iTunes. I did!