Mike Rud: Live from Lotusland / The Oliver Gannon Quartet: Thatís What
This pair releases by Canadian plectrists covers lots of territory, both literally and figuratively. Oliver Gannon has been active on the Vancouver scene since the early 1970s, has performed throughout Europe and North America, and made three concert tours of the former USSR. His long association with the late tenor saxophonist Fraser MacPherson included a Juno Award-winning duo album in 1982. Gannon's recordings for Concord Jazz are highly regarded by fans of mainstream jazz guitar. He is among the hardest swinging straight-ahead guitarists on the planet, and can always be relied upon to play with momentum and grace.
Mike Rud studied with Brian Hughes, then completed a performance diploma at Edmonton's Grant MacEwan College in 1988. He holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees from McGill in Montreal and has also studied at Banff Centre for the Arts, as well as privately with Jim Hall. He recently moved from Vancouver to Ottawa and is becoming increasingly visible on the Montreal scene again too. Rud is busy as a teacher and clinician in addition to his work as a performing musician. Although he's from a different generation than Gannon, Rud is also an unapologetic swinger, and there's no danger of mistaking his music for anything other than Jazz with a capital "J. His tone is usually a bit brighter than Gannon's, with a flinty edge.
Live from Lotusland
Rud sounds a lot like the father of the electric guitar, Les Paul, on the up-tempo opening track from Live from Lotusland, "Laurier Luxury Walk. It's definitely more of a power-walk than a stroll. The pace lays back next with "Blues for Junior, which shows Rud's affinity for the kind of leisurely greasy groove so masterfully essayed for so many years by the likes of B. B. King and Kenny Burrell.
The nicely balanced programrecorded by CBC Vancouver in 2002 and 2004continues with five more Rud originals, in a variety of tempos and moods, plus a pair of ballad standards. All but one of the tracks are by a band that features tenor saxophonist Mike Allen, bassist Russ Botten, drummer Dave Robbins and pianist Tilden Webb. "R.B.'s Line is the only piece with Webb, drummer James Cahill and bassist Jodi Proznick. There's real depth and an appreciation of the continuum of jazz guitar history in Rud's playingand a heaping helping of joie de vivre as well.
Oliver Gannon Quartet
Gannon's February 28, 2004 performance at the Cellar documented on That's What features pianist Miles Black, bassist Miles Hill and drummer Blaine Wikjord. There are three Gannon originals, two pieces by Black, a pair of standards (Victor Young's classic "Stella by Starlight and Jerry Livingston's "Talk of the Town ) and one apiece by Monk and Mingus. His choice of the unhackneyed "Bright Mississippi as the Thelonious Monk tune is an inspired one. Based on "Sweet Georgia Brown, the tune is one of the more obscure compositions in Monk's ouevre. It lives up to the first word in its title and includes some delightful paraphrases of other pieces by the Sphere-ical one as Black's solo takes off.
Mingus's "Goodbye Porkpie Hat has long been a favorite with jazz guitarists. Gannon's version can stand with the best of them, as he takes the bittersweet paean to Lester Young at a medium lope, a shade faster than many folks have in the past, and conveys the joy as well as the pathos inherent in the melody. There's a deep blues bedrock underlying this interpretation.
Fans of jazz guitar will find plenty of substance on these two releases from Vancouver's Cellar Live label.
Tracks and Personnel
Live from Lotusland
Tracks: Laurier Luxury Walk; Blues For Junior; R.B.'s Line; Persona Non Grata; Suangel; Hap Hap Happy!; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square; Punctilios; I'll Be Seeing You.
Personnel: Tracks 1, 2, 4-9: Mike Allen: tenor saxophone; Russ Botten: bass; Dave Robbins: drums; Tilden Webb: piano. Track 3: Jesse Cahill: drums; Jodi Proznick: bass; Tilden Webb: piano.
Tracks: Jay's Blues; Bright Mississippi; Four Cats; Brooklyn; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; Stella By Starlight; That's What; Talk Of The Town; Soul Journey.
Personnel: Oliver Gannon: guitar; Miles Black: piano; Miles Hill: bass; Blaine Wikjord: drums.