Today I’m going to the Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park for some free live instrumentation, sun and relaxation. Out of the many acts scheduled today, I’m looking forward to one the most: Atlanta-bred Tony Hightower. I’ve had his new album The New Standard on repeat since I attended his listening event a few weeks ago. If you have some familiarity with Tony Hightower, you may recall his sound as soulful, energetic rhythm and blues. Still soulful but more refined, Hightower has delved into the art form of standard jazz. This latest project captures the spirit of some of the best elements of jazz standards and swing music: scatting ala Ella, swing and straight ahead sounds courtesy of the band thehc3, and serious crooning. Hightower invokes the smoothness of Nat King Cole and the invariable cool of Sammy Davis Jr. from a simultaneously modern and nostalgic angle. He wrote six out of the ten tracks featured on the album, which, at first listen, may be difficult to differentiate the standards from the contemporary. No need, though. The New Standard is a seamless interpretation of what jazz standards once were and what Hightower envisions its future to be.
One of my favorite tracks is “All Belongs to You.” Written by Hightower, accompanied by the Good Times Brass Band, “All Belongs to You” is the culmination of a project that has quietly been nurtured and perfected then served with care to the masses.