Album Review of
Standard Deviation

Written by Joe Ross
May 15, 2020 - 4:43pm EDT
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New York City composer/arranger Wayne Alpern may facetiously call himself a “musical kleptomaniac,” but he displays considerable fun-loving creativity when he “recomposes standards through deviation to become original art.”  Alpern’s classy arrangements of contemporary rock, pop, and country songs have a lot of appeal. It would be a considerable challenge to reinvent a song like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but Alpern proves that it adapts ideally to a stylish instrumental jazz ensemble rendition. He takes a similar approach to songs originally performed by Bob Dylan (“Dear Landlord”), Journey (“Don’t Stop Believin’”), Temptations (“My Girl”), Zombies (“She’s Not There”), Four Seasons (“Who Loves You Pretty Baby”), Bobbie Gentry (“Ode to Billie Joe”), Katy Perry (“Teenage Dream”), and Gotye (“Somebody That I Used To Know”). One could certainly argue that these songs miss something without strong vocalists delivering each lyric with convincing emotion. On the other hand, Alpern’s instrumental arrangements are remarkably powerful, and the accomplished brass and string players pull them off with aplomb. How delightful!  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)