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Rob Mullins: Standards & More

These four musicians (pianist Rob Mullins, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Roberts, bassist David Levray, drummer Evan Stone) have spent most of their playing time in such genres as smooth-jazz and rock and R&B, occasionally indulging in crowd-pleasing tricks. On “Moanin’,” Roberts honks and croaks like a bar-walker and Mullins forces some manic pummeling licks. But they also they take on substantial jazz repertory items like “Giant Steps,” and do not embarrass themselves. The three ballads (“In a Sentimental Mood,” “Angel Eyes,” “When I Fall in Love”) are tense with the expectancy created when hard blowers play soft.

No studio album can recreate a sense of moment like a live nightclub recording done right. Standards & More was recorded at Steamers in Fullerton, Calif. (“Orange County’s top jazz club”) on July 1, 2005, by one of the most talented engineers now working in jazz. Drew Daniels renders four instruments with a detailed clarity approaching the best studio recordings, and also captures the rowdy audience and the ambient night air. The music has sweaty energy, everyone is having fun, and, without having to fight L.A. traffic, we are absolutely there.

Originally Published