With roots in rock, R&B, blues, and soul, Boz Scaggs's turn to standards might be a bit surprising, even as a previous generation's hits have become something of a refuge for certain aging rockers. But the sly, understated approach Scaggs used to such great effect going back to his Silk Degrees days also works well in giving a charming insouciance to the songs of Rodgers and Hart, Ellington, Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Arlen, and Jobim on his new Speak Low (Decca). Scaggs's silky, subtly textured voice enables him to approach these nuggets as a sophisticated pop singer without attempting the deep nuances of a true jazz singer. Nonetheless, they achieve a distinctive spin thanks to his casually smart phrasing, Gil Goldstein's agile arrangements, and the sparkling instrumental work of Goldstein's Septet. On the title track, for instance, Scaggs's voice sidles in over a clarinet percolating in the lower register, catches a waft from a breezy vibes solo, and finally eddies among the bittersweet lyrics. And Ellington's often jaunty "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me" is given a deliciously languid treatment that underscores the lyrics' message. Speak Low is Scaggs's second collection of standards, a comfortable niche for which he seems to have a natural affinity. $65 at 7 pm; $50 at 9:30 pm.
Wednesdays, Thursdays. Starts: Nov. 5. Continues through Nov. 6, 2008