By Dustin Krcatovich | Published February 2019
Standards records can be a dicey proposition. Some hem slavishly close to source material; others modernize in a fashion that’s more tacky than imaginative. New York bassist Alexander Claffy and his band don’t stray far from either on Standards: What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?, working in a warm, classic style. Much of the music here sounds like it could have been recorded in 1961, with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel’s deployment of electronic effects creating a rubbery, delay-laden sound, affording the album a shock of modernity. On a take of McCoy Tyner’s “Blues On The Corner,” Rosenwinkel recalls Adrian Belew more than the Burrell-ish sounds one might expect in context. While not a particularly fiery record, there are occasional blasts of heat. On “You Must Believe In Spring,” tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm ventures into sheets-of-sound territory, steering the band into choppier waters. Even at its weakest moments, Standards remains pleasant. And while there’s not much risk-taking, Claffy still stretches the boundaries of his chosen framework, doing justice to the material at hand.
Standards: What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?: Blues On The Corner; You Must Believe In Spring; Michelle; Just One Of Those Things; So In Love; Is That So?; Devil’s Island; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?; Deep Song. (62:01)
Personnel: Alexander Claffy, bass; Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar; David Kikoski, piano; Adam Arruda, drums (1, 3, 5); Mark Whitfield Jr., drums (2, 8); Aaron Kimmel, drums (4, 6, 7); Joel Frahm, tenor saxophone (2, 6, 7); Benny Benack III, trumpet (6, 7); Veronica Swift, vocals (9).