Vocalist Tony Lindsay is best known for his two-decade-plus tenure in Santana, a run that included Carlos Santana’s career-reviving monster hit Supernatural. But don’t even think of filing Pacific Standard Time in the bin of mediocrity reserved for rock ‘n’ rollers trying to eke out a second or third act via a misguided run at the American Songbook. Lindsay is a singer steeped in soul and R&B, and his smooth, sweetly imploring tenor sounds utterly at home interpreting well-loved standards. Backed by a talent-laden quintet led by veteran multi-reed player Michael O’Neill, Lindsay navigates some fairly intricate arrangements with unassuming aplomb.
O’Neill has carved out a distinctive niche on the San Francisco Bay Area jazz scene working regularly with the region’s top vocalists, including Denise Perrier, Tiffany Austin, Clairdee, and most importantly the insuperable Kenny Washington, who’s featured on three previous albums by the saxophonist’s working band. Featuring trumpeter and Electric Squeezebox Orchestra leader Erik Jekabson, trumpeter Mike Olmos, drummer Alan Hall, pianist John R. Burr, and bassist/engineer Dan Feiszli (who co-produced and recorded the album), the quintet accompanies Lindsay with fire and imagination. He establishes his swing bona fides with the fleet opener, “Just Friends,” set to a galloping 6/8 groove by Hall. Just about everyone in the ensemble contributes charts, and Lindsay never seems fazed by the array of ideas they throw at him, whether it’s a molasses-tinged 12/8 arrangement of Carmichael’s “Georgia” or Burr’s subtle reharmonization of “The Way You Look Tonight.”
The only off-the-beaten-track track is the too-little covered Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn gem “It’s You or No One,” a luscious, straightforward ballad. What the repertoire lacks in surprises it often makes up for with unexpected twists, particularly O’Neill’s kaleidoscopic arrangement of “Summertime,” an old dog that leads Lindsay to some new tricks.
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