Jazz pianist Ted Kooshian follows up his well received self-titled “Ted Kooshian’s Standard Orbit Quartet” (Summit Records 2008), with another unique recording inspired by Kooshian’s love for movies and television program theme songs. As the press clippings accurately states, Underdog and Other Stories… “takes the listener on a ‘jazzy-trip’ down memory lane” turning theme songs from cartoon shows like “Underdog,” and “Popeye” into striking motifs of contemporary jazz with stellar play from such players like saxophonist Jeff Lederer who wields the tenor and soprano with assertiveness, drummer Scott Neumann and bassist Tom Hubbard with Warren Odze sharing duties with Neumann on several tracks.

This is of course Kooshian’s album and as such the pianist is formidable in his own right providing flowing piano lines evident through out, just listen to the very jazzy rendition of Dave Grusin’s “Baretta.” The theme song from the classic comedy “Sandford and Son” comes across with a taste of funk hiding the familiar melody a bit. The group slows it down on the ballad-like “Wild Wild West” featuring Lederer on a slow tenor burn and the pianist on a graceful dance on the keys. Other interesting arrangements are found on such tunes as Neal Hefti’s “The Odd Couple,” the familiar Duke Ellington standard “Purple Gazelle,” the soft and beautiful Henry Mancini composition “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the brisk and bouncy groove of the finale number, “Little Lulu.”

On Underdog and Other Stories, Ted Kooshian takes his remarkable Standard Orbit Quartet on another spacey ride across the universe picking up radio waves from some more TV and movie signals and transforms them into exceptional jazzy arrangements radiating with excitement.

by Edward Blanco – ejazznews (2009)