Jazz Twitter recently devolved into bedlam over the validity of standards, but one thing is certain—they still do what they were designed to do. To Carlos Franzetti’s ears, 1940s and ’50s torch songs provided a balm for wartime uncertainty and dislocation, and they can do the same during the pandemic. Remember when we didn’t know when we could visit our aging parents again? Tunes like “I’ll Be Seeing You” developed a new patina of poignancy.
That bittersweet song appears on the Argentine pianist/composer’s new trio album, In the Wee Small Hours, which features bassist David Finck and drummer Billy Drummond. It’s paired with standards of a common emotional hue, like Eubie Blake’s and Andy Razaf’s “Memories of You” and Bill Evans’ “Time Remembered.” Like Frank Sinatra’s 1955 disc of the same name, the result is something of a curated concept album—with the mood decidedly indigo.
As these meditations on separation, longing, and return keep rolling, In the Wee Small Hours functions as a soul-upbuilding kickback record. Franzetti purposefully chose ballads that push through hopelessness in search of optimism, so listeners can simply enjoy the luxurious melodies and the interplay between him, Finck, and Drummond, all of whom extract maximum emotional information from these well-worn tunes.
Now that the worst of the pandemic is (probably) behind us, let this excellent trio date soundtrack not dark nights of the soul, but sweet reunions.