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New Standards jazz up old tunes in Sheldon concert

The New Standards trio plays at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Sheldon Theatre.

By Ruth Nerhaugen, Contributor

One thing the New Standards promises: Old standards the way you’ve never heard them before.

The three musicians — reviewers dubbed them a “minimalist odd trio” — play and sing familiar songs in a way that is consistently surprising, charming and funny. They’ll make their Sheldon Theatre debut at 7 p.m. Oct. 19.

The three core members are Chan Poling (piano), who founded the punk/new wave band the Suburbs; John Munson (bass), an original member of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic; and Steve Roehm (vibes), who started on drums in a punk outfit in Texas and the avant-jazz Electropolis.

Since they got together in 2005 as an offshoot project, the trio has developed a style that became a globe-spanning adventure. They have filled theaters and clubs around the world, and produced CDs, videos, cartoons and dance/theater projects.

The heart of their music is jazz trio repertoire from every era, including post-1960s pop music. They originally got together to play and sing old favorites, but they wanted to do it in a stripped-down acoustic setting.

Their style embraces the freedom of jazz, with room for solos and arrangements, but it never abandons the modest soul of pop and rock, Sheldon officials said.

According to the group’s Website, “a ‘cover band’ we’re not. We operate more on the model of jazz bands in the ’50s and ’60s that utilized the popular songs of their day to riff off of. We love the songs we prong to the project and try to enhance them as best we can.”

Sheldon spokesmen added, “TMS is not a lounge or novelty act. One listen to their music and you realize that they take their music making as well as their jobs as entertainers seriously.”

The trio’s new CD is “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” It’s “a bit more serious,” they said, because two members were dealing with the loss of loved ones. However, they added, “It also serves as a vehicle of escape and expression for us all, and benefits from both the Yin and Yang of loss and celebration.”

Reviewers across the globe have praised the trio. The New York Post described their debut album: “(They) take pop and rock tunes … then strip them down and juices them back up with vocals, piano, bass and totally cool vibes. It’s a big quirky, but it works.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune agreed, calling them “One of the most fun bands out there now.”

The New Standards are performing tonight (Oct. 12) at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, and have a holiday show upcoming on Dec. 7 at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.

Next week’s concert is the trio’s first in Red Wing. Spokesmen said and plan to “rock the pretty river city.” And, they added, “look for us after the show in the St. James Hotel bar.”

Tickets are $24.50 for adults, $15.50 for students. Visit the Website or call 651-388-8700.