StandArt is pianist Tigran Hamasyan’s first album of American standards, eight songs from the 1920s to 1950s, plus a jointly improvised piece – Invasion During An Operetta – that also involves guest trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.
Hamasyan is a delightful and entertaining host, swift and fleet on Elmo Hope’s opening De-Dah, more percussive and suitably time-shifting on I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, although his own solo is contrastingly light, and caressingly gentle on All The Things You Are, a duo with the light-voiced saxophone of Mark Turner.
Throughout, Hamasyan’s piano lines are thoughtful and often unexpected, his approach oblique and sometimes obtuse but never less than relevant: it takes a lot of nerve to attack Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise with such force, and carry it off so well. The rhythm section of Brewer and Brown are supportive throughout, romping along in fine style behind a demonstrative Joshua Redman on Big Foot, while the featured soloists on three tracks make their mark as required.
This might be an album full of well-known music, but Hamasyan brings fresh insights to every note he plays, truly adding the Art to the Stand-ards. Another strong album from a pianist increasingly in the limelight.
De–Dah; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; All The Things You Are; Big Foot; When A Woman Loves A Man; Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise; I Should Care; Invasion During An Operetta Laura (47.28)
Hamasyan (p); Matt Brewer (b); Justin Brown (d); plus Mark Turner, Joshua Redman (ts); Ambrose Akinmusire (t). c.2021.