WBGO Radar

Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow, Bobby Previte: The New Standard

Cover of Jamie Saft's album The New Standard

The New Standard was born, as are many good things, over a cup of coffee. Several cups, and a shared passion for the brew.

Keyboardist Jamie Saft is an espresso fanatic. So is bassist Steve Swallow. Their mutual friend, drummer Bobby Previte, brought them together to share the secrets of their best cups.

But Previte had other things in mind.

”Bobby, of course, was trying to put us together musically,” says Saft. “Finally, we all convened at my new studio near Kingston, New York.”

The result is a warm, relaxed album that sounds intentionally unrehearsed: it was captured to analog tape in a single take, with minimal intervention, by engineer Joe Ferla.

“It was the simplest, chillest record I have ever done,” says Previte. “We’d discuss it for a second, literally, and we were off!”

Saft and Swallow might seem unlikely bedfellows: the keyboardist is best known for avant-garde work with  saxophonist John Zorn and bands like Metallic Taste Of Blood. Swallow has had enduring collaborations with pianist Carla Bley, vibraphonist Gary Burton and others on Germany's ECM label.

But as with any cup, the proof is in the taste, and The New Standard is above all else, tasteful.

Bobby was right to recognize, and encourage, the pair’s musical affinity: together, they sound both lyrical and economical; Previte provides the glue. No one overplays.

“I tried to put together pieces that were super soulful and honest,” says Saft. “They took my simple pieces and made them into grand structures on which to improvise.”

  - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer

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