This is the new project for Raoul Bhaneja, entertainer, vocalist, actor, harmonica player & bandleader. He’s joined by Jesse Whiteley of the famous Whiteley clan and a keyboard wiz formerly with bands like JW-Jones and the 24th Street Wailers. The duo’s name derives from ‘jazz standard’ and they chose songs from well-known jazz singers such as Nat King Cole, Chet Baker and Jimmy Scott. The album title comes from a Joe Williams song, which gets a lovely vocal from Raoul.

This Joe Williams was the well-regarded vocalist with the Count Basie Band before heading out on a hugely successful solo career. His many blues recordings are rightly viewed as classics. You’ll recognize many of the titles here, such as “Walking My Baby Back Home”, “When Did You Leave Heaven” and “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You”. You’ll also marvel at the voice/piano reduction – as has been written in another context, these songs are not so much covered as ‘uncovered’. Blue Standard save a couple of more uptempo songs for last: “Teach Me Tonight” and “Crazy Rhythm”. This last one gets a quite wonderful harmonica solo from Raoul. Jaymz Bee writes in his liner notes that ‘open minded jazz aficionados should be impressed’. I would add that open minded blues lovers would enjoy this as well. Categories and labels are handy to organize information but when it comes to musicians it often does them a great disservice, ignoring the fact that many of them have far wider interests and abilities. You should check out this album wherever you get your music. And don’t forget that Raoul Bhaneja will once again host the MBAs on Feb. 4. The CD release party will be at the Jazz Bistro on Jan. 17. I should add that this is not a complete departure for Raoul, Raoul and The Big Time continue to perform, go to www.raoulandthebigtime.com to check for shows.

January 2019 - Robert Davis
January 2019 - Eric Schenkman