Somewhere Else: Songs From West Side Story (Plastic Sax Records)
Ted Nash Trio
Released August 16, 2019
DownBeat Five-Star Review
Two-time Grammy–winning composer and saxophonist Ted Nash releases Somewhere Else: West Side Story Songs (Plastic Sax). On this Nash and company continue the tradition they have created interpreting wonderful songs by composers they love. (Their previous release, Ben Allison’s Quiet Revolution, was dedicated mainly to the music of Jim Hall and Jimmy Giuffre.)
In Nash’s own words:
There was a moment backstage when I wiped a bead of sweat from my temple and glanced over at Steve and Ben. We shook our heads and laughed. It was the only way to express the gratitude and sheer joy we felt about the interplay and trust we just experienced during the past hour on stage at the Havana Jazz Festival.
Our set, comprised of songs from West Side Story, was foremost a celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, but also an opportunity for the trio to continue the tradition we have created interpreting wonderful songs by composers we love.
We were welcomed this particular evening equally by a persistent humidity and an enthusiastic crowd, many of whom lingered at the edge of the stage to connect with us as we gathered our gear a little later. ‘You have to record this music,’ the group implored.
And it is because of their insistence we bring the songs to you on this album.
1. Jet Song (Leonard Bernstein) 5:36
2. A Boy Like That (Leonard Bernstein) 4:47
3. Maria (Leonard Bernstein) 4:04
4. One Hand, One Heart (Leonard Bernstein) 4:00
5. Tonight (Leonard Bernstein) 4:00
6. America (Leonard Bernstein) 5:19
7. I Have a Love (Leonard Bernstein) 3:19
8. Something’s Coming (Leonard Bernstein) 6:10
9. Cool (Leonard Bernstein) 4:17
10. Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein) 5:21
11. Somewhere (Reprise) 2:56
Ted Nash: tenor sax, clarinet
Steve Cardenas: guitar
Ben Allison: bass
Recorded December 17 – 18, 2018, at East Side Sound, NYC
Recording engineer – Marc Urselli
2nd engineer – Duff Harris
Mixed by Ben Allison
Mastered by Doug Schwartz
Produced by Ted Nash Cover
Arrangements by Ted Nash, Steve Cardenas and Ben Allison
Illustration by Mary Elizabeth Huber
Graphic design by Exponent Collaborative
When Ron Carter was asked why he so often plays standards when so many musicians insist on writing their own tunes, he was typically succinct. “Artists are not necessarily the best writers, and the proof of that is that the only people who play their material is them. When the new guys write better tunes, then maybe I’ll play them.” Jazz at Lincoln Center reedist Ted Nash, it should be noted, is a highly accomplished composer and arranger for ensembles both large and small. And his gorgeous 2016 Presidential Suite: Eight Variations On Freedom deservedly won him two Grammy Awards. With no pressure to prove himself, Nash now takes on interpreting one of the 20th century’s greatest musical treasures, West Side Story. The songs that Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim wrote for it, steeped in the sounds of New York jazz and Latin music, have been played in jazz settings before, but the energy that Nash brings to the task is exceptional. With just guitarist Steve Cardenas and bassist Ben Allison, and Nash alternating between tenor and clarinet, the trio deftly captures the expressive power of the Bernstein orchestrations with a few bold strokes, then riffs organically off them in constantly surprising ways. One has to believe the maestro, who loved the kind of jazz energy and imagination on display here, would have approved.
Allen Morrison (DownBeat)