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Steve Shapiro and Pat Bergeson: Low Standards

Steve Shapiro has been on the scene for 20 years playing vibes and marimba, composing, arranging, accumulating TV scoring credits and keeping a low profile as sideman with top names in jazz and pop. With guitarist Pat Bergeson as coproducer, Shapiro has issued his third album as leader, Low Standards (Sons of Sound). This is unpretentious, straightahead combo swing. Shapiro sculpts his solos well; his best efforts come on “Days of Wine and Roses” and Wes Montgomery’s “Four on Six.” But his frequent four-mallet comping doesn’t go unappreciated, and neither does the firm, melodic walking of bassist Doug Weiss.

Bergeson shines on “How Deep Is the Ocean?” and on Shapiro’s moody jazz waltz “End of the Road.” Tenor player Scott Kreitzer’s smoothest moments come while playing over drummer Jeff Williams’ tom-tom effects during Ellington’s neglected 1954 gem “Reflections in D.” Perky vocalist Annie Sellick, an original with her own way of phrasing that allows her tongue-in-cheek personality to emerge, sings “Ocean,” “Wine and Roses,” and “Everything Happ-ens to Me” over diaphanous backing by just Shapiro and Bergeson. She toys with time and takes risks playing catch-up but never sacrifices enunciation, breaks up vowels a la Anita O’Day and boasts a remarkable range. Shapiro’s sharp, but keep your ears on Annie.

Originally Published