So glad to finally be able to share this with the world – the most involved album I’ve ever done – like the last one, this one too has been a long time coming. Digital sales only for the moment, and hopefully a CD version in the not-too-distant future – for now, it’s on iTunes, Amazon, etc., and also at Bandcamp.
I hope you take a listen and enjoy the music! Below are the all the same album credits and notes that are up on Bandcamp:
Paul Silbergleit—The Hidden Standard Blujazz BJ3487
Songs: 1. Eleanor Rigby, 2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 3. Happiness, 4. Inner Urge, 5. Love Boat, 6. (They Long to Be) Close to You, 7. Evidence, 8. Sometimes It Snows in April, 9. Danny Boy
Personnel: Eric Jacobson, trumpet / Eric Schoor, tenor and soprano saxophones / Paul Silbergleit – guitar / Mark Davis – piano / Jeff Hamann – bass / David Bayles – drums / Bony Plog-Benavides – bongos on track 6, congas on track 9 / Robert Figueroa – cajon on track 9 / Amy Penington – bodhrán on track 9
All arrangements by Paul Silbergleit, except for “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” arranged by Eric Schoor.
Recorded August 20–21, 2018 at Tanner-Monagle Studio, Milwaukee, WI — Recorded by Ric Probst/Remote Planet Recording — Mixed and Mastered by Brian Schwab — Album design by Jamie Breiwick/Bside Graphics
Thanks so much to Eric, Eric, Mark, Jeff, Dave, Bony, Robert, Amy, Ric, and Brian for your tremendous efforts, without which this endeavor would not have been possible. Thanks too to Jamie Breiwick, Berkeley Fudge, and Aaron Gardner for helping to make this music come alive over the years.
This album represents a departure for me as a recording artist, in that it doesn’t involve a single original composition, and for the most part isn’t especially focused on guitar. Rather, the project stems from my desire to document a collection of arrangements that I’ve written, over the years, for a Milwaukee-area jazz sextet I play with called We Six. Through many seasons of presenting concerts with specific themes, we’ve often had a need for our own unique versions of songs that are not normally part of the jazz repertoire, but which can be made to work remarkably well in the style. Most of the selections here fit into this category of unlikely gems, hence the name The Hidden Standard.
A long-standing lineup of this group constitutes the core personnel on these tracks, and I’m so happy with the way my bandmates, guest percussionists included, capture just the right vibe for each piece, bringing both passion and sensitivity to every part. I’ve always loved playing in harmony with Eric and Eric in my frequent role as the third voice in the front line, and it’s also great just being there while either of them delivers a melody or wails on a solo. Mark reels out chords and lines with taste, fire, and precision, Jeff lays down a rock-solid foundation while nicely loosening things up when needed, and Dave is there steering the whole thing, rhythmically, dynamically, and spiritually, from behind the drum set. And Bony, Amy, and Robert add so much to this music—though during some segments here, they simply are the music.
Mining the Beatles songbook for jazz material may not be the most novel idea, but this particular version of Eleanor Rigby is just the sort of thing that resonates with us as a band. Like some other arrangements in this set, it involves the transformation of the song’s musical elements into corresponding jazz phrases and figures, though not necessarily with an aim to preserve the mood of the original. As performed here, it winds up evoking the exuberance of the Jazz Messengers’ “Moanin’” more than the stark sense of loneliness normally associated with the melancholy pop masterpiece.
With Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, on the other hand, I tried more so to bring out the song’s intrinsic sense of longing and departure, even while adapting it for a jazz setting. Happiness is the closing number of the stage musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (based on the Peanuts comic strip), in which it movingly expresses an appreciation of childhood, togetherness, and the little things in life. Hopefully, some of its essential warmth comes across in this rendition, even with the different groove and without the words.
For jazz insiders, Inner Urge and Evidence are just plain standard, and hardly hidden, though generally considered to be on the challenging end of the repertoire. But while they don’t entail the conversion of anything from a different genre, these are another couple of charts of mine that I just wanted to record, and they serve nicely to round out the set. I think we manage to tap into the drama and intensity of Joe Henderson’s monumental “Inner Urge,” from a bit of a fresh angle, and I’d hope Thelonious Monk would forgive me for my take on the inherent humor of “Evidence”—though I’m frankly not so sure he would.
The theme from the 1970s/80s TV show The Love Boat is one of the more substantially transformed songs on the album (as you may guess), and presents the perfect opportunity to feature a sound that I’ve heard all too seldom in this life, namely the soprano sax playing of Eric Schoor. I never thought one of my all-time favorite soprano solos would be played on Love Boat, but there it is. The super-hip interpretation of the classic Carpenters hit (They Long to Be) Close to You is actually Schoor’s arrangement (and the only one on here not written by me). However, I believe it was Dave’s excellent idea during rehearsal to have Bony join us to play congas on the tune—and although that wasn’t the original plan (she had initially been slated only to play bongos on “Danny Boy”), this track is now unimaginable to me without her percussion work in the mix.
Though I can’t claim to be the closest follower of Prince, I joined countless others in feeling the loss a few years ago when he passed away so much too soon. In tribute, I wrote this arrangement of Sometimes It Snows in April, his own poignant song of mourning. I tried to honor the spirit of the original at least in its subdued dynamic—but somewhat as with “Eleanor Rigby,” I’d say this chart mainly just provides a way to render the tune in a jazz context, without insistently maintaining the same atmosphere. (David Bowie also left us around this time, and I made a more ill-fated attempt at a jazz version of “Space Oddity.”)
Several years ago, for a We Six concert involving the same three guest percussionists heard here, Dave asked me to write an arrangement that would serve to feature Amy on the bodhràn, as well as bringing all nine of us together as a unit. I had the notion that Irish and Latin American percussion could be successfully combined in a 12/8 groove, with each player approaching it in their respective manner. But not being at all versed in the Irish tradition, I chose as my source material the one pertinent song whose melody was firmly entrenched in my mind—and thus was born this incarnation of Danny Boy. Among these jazz adaptations of familiar tunes, this one seems to me to be sometimes authentic to the original sentiment (despite the unusual setting), and at other times not.
These are certainly not the most cutting-edge or sophisticated jazz sextet arrangements out there. They just represent a way of playing these songs that I think hits the spot, while giving this band a good platform from which to take flight—and I hope you think so too as you listen through!
Paul Silbergleit, May 2020