Greg Ruggiero: Balance (2007)
Another reference point could be the current music of Kevin Eubanks for many of the same reasons. Rarely taking extended solos, Ruggiero tends to concentrate on the overall ensemble sound, rounding out his compositions with an emphasis on harmonic shading, distinctive time displacements, and the role of each instrument involved in the pieces. He switches between electric, acoustic and classical guitars in an effort to integrate tonal colorations to great effect. He has plenty to say, but never thumps anyone over the head with it.
The idea of an ensemble working together as one voice seems to be of utmost importance. Every member handles the music with poise and deft sensibility, which brings a radiant and monolithic character to the overall sound. Ruggiero's warm guitar tones blend beautifully with Rob Wilkerson's alto and Frank LoCrasto's Fender Rhodes piano; when combined, they bring about a shimmering and seductively undulant sound that never becomes overly sentimental or sappy. There is a delicate balance between light and dark, exposition and introspection, and the known and unknown.
One of the more interesting aspects of this music is how Ruggiero deals with time, with the interaction between his guitar and the rhythm section quite compelling. While the overall warmth of the music is inviting, there is an undercurrent that reveals itself through note choice and time displacement that betrays a depth of power to the music that is truly captivating.
Track Listing: Answer; This Life; A Losing Battle; Balance; The Way Out West; Ethereal; Paper Cranes; My Better Half.
Personnel: Greg Ruggiero: electric, acoustic, classical guitars, vocals; Rob Wilkerson: alto saxophone; Frank LoCrasto: piano, Fender Rhodes, ARP Odyssey; Matt Brewer: bass; Tommy Crane: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent
Style: Modern Jazz