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Carefully Planned Jazz, Fit for a '50s Soundtrack

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Ben Wolfe
The bassist Ben Wolfe has some very tight ideas about composition, an interest in combining a small jazz band with strings and an admiration for jazz of the late 1950s. Where that leads him, inevitably, is to music that sounds as if it's made for a film: noirs, thrillers, movies shot at night with rain-slicked streets reflecting the lights, that kind of thing.

On Tuesday at the Jazz Standard he brought eight players onstage to run through music from his new album, “No Strangers Here" (MaxJazz): a jazz quartet and a string quartet, each working more or less in an idiom last called “modern" about a half-century ago. In this music Mingus and Miles Davis meet Bartok and Bernard Herrmann. And in the service of drama everyone gets along, through ominous stranger-at-the-door ostinatos, romantic down-tempo saunters and running-through-alleyways postbop.

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