When bassist Scott Colley, saxophonist Joshua Redman, drummer Brian Blade and cornetist Ron Miles took the stage at Jazz Standard on Jan. 12, in one of the first performances of Still Dreaming, their effervescent tribute to Old and New Dreams, it felt more like an uncanny reunion than homage. “Dewey’s Tune” and “Guinea” sat comfortably next to originals penned by Redman and Colley, yet the group handily eschewed the pitfalls of impersonating their musical forebears; the original quartet is irreproducible, but the new incarnation took its spirit and soared. The instantaneous group cohesion was no surprise. To some extent, all the players grew up with their Old and New Dreams counterparts.
On Dec. 29, during a set by the Chris Potter Trio at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Old and New Dreams’ bassist, the late Charlie Haden, loomed large-particularly when Colley quoted Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna” in the middle of his solo on “Sky,” the culmination of Potter’s densely orchestrated 2015 release, Imaginary Cities. With a Potter arrangement pared down from 11 to three parts but just as potent, Colley captured Haden’s striking ability to signify on pastoral Americana within an eclectic array of contexts, without ever compromising the integrity of the piece at hand, its historical backdrop or his own inimitable style.