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June 2001

Dick Oatts Trio/Quartet
Standard Issue 2
SteepleChase

In this sequel to Standard Issue, Volume One, the animated and thoughtful Dick Oatts deploys his alto along lines recalling the cerebral passions of Lee Konitz and Art Pepper. Here, as on its predecessor, Oatts circles his material in tandem with bassist Dave Santoro and drummer James Oblon. The rapport is ESP-canny. Thanks to Santoro's and Oblon's secure moorings, Oatts walks a high wire allowing him to engage tunes like "Stella by Starlight" from both inside and outside perspectives. The highly appealing results recall Konitz's inspired locutions for Motion, recorded with Elvin Jones and Sonny Dallas in 1961.

On the uptempo "On Green Dolphin Street," Oatts sails with lyric abandon atop Santoro's centered pulse and Oblon's nudging brushes. Although in terms of dynamic markings it whispers, in intensity, it roars. And without a chording instrument, the architectonics of Oatts' designs are heightened by the white space containing them. For "Stella," Oatts' ear-grabbing sound is at once ethereal and bluesy with Oblon's insistent sticks and Santoro's no-nonsense gait adding a powerful undercurrent.

On the three remaining tracks, pianist Harold Danko guests. Because of Danko's sensitivity and spare comping style, the openness of the trio format is preserved thus allowing Oatts to fly with an intensity more Birdlike than Konitzian, especially on the ever soaring "You Stepped Out of a Dream."

Originally published in June 2001
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