Though jazz drummer Charles Ruggiero has made many recordings as a sideman over the last twenty-five years, he makes his long-awaited debut with Boom Bang, Boom Bang!, paying a tribute of sorts to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, two of his favorite jazz artists. Growing up with the sounds of the flute and the Fender Rhodes, it was only natural that he decides to make his first recording effort using these voices and not make an album with a "drummy" sound to it. Ruggiero succeeds quite nicely with respect to this intention, and does so by being an unselfish leader and allowing the flute and the Fender to play prominent roles in this recording.
Drawn to the Rhodes and the flute, the drummer documents his very first solo effort featuring Jeremy Manasia on the Fender and Ian Hendrickson-Smith on the flute and rounds out the quartet with Barak Mori on the upright bass. Vocalist Hilary Gardner appears on the light "I'm A Broken Heart," the only vocal tune of the short six-piece repertoire, perhaps the only constructive criticism of the album which is, that there should have been more than what is offered. Peter Bernstein's "Little Green Men" starts the music off in stylish fashion with flautist Hendrickson-Smith taking the lead supported ably by Manasia and the drummer's crashing cymbal accents painting the piece as a modern burner.
The late great bassist Dwayne Burno is remembered here on Manasia's original "Waltz for B," an eight minute balladic soft spot where the music is humble and the playersall of whom have solo moments hererespectful in their playing of a gorgeous dedication piece. Featuring Manasia on the Fender, Ruggiero includes a number from Corea's songbook as the band does an appreciable rendition of "The One Step," then borrows an original from the flautist with the moody, down tempo "Elmhurst" highlighting solos from Hendrickson-Smith and steady stick work by the leader with the bass and the Rhodes in the background.
The set comes to a close on the rousing "Liftoff," perhaps the liveliest most up tempo tune featuring the best solo moments from all members of the band, leaving the listener wanting much more than the brief number and limited repertoire actually delivered. Nevertheless, drummer Charles Ruggiero emerges from the shadows of other artists and delivers his first statement as leader with the very impressive Boom Bang, Boom Bang! serving notice that he deserves the notoriety and recognition as a drummer of note which, of course, he already has and this audacious breakout performance, may further cement this well-deserved reputation.
Little Green Men; Waltz for B; The One Step; Elmhurst; I'm A Broken Heart; Liftoff.
Charles Ruggiero: drums; Ian Hendrickson-Smith: flute; Jeremy Manasia: Fender Rhodes, piano; Barak Mori: bass; Hilary Gardner: vocals (5).
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