All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Russ Spiegel: Chimera

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Chimera is guitarist Russ Spiegel's fourth album and first for Steeplechase. His previous releases include a rock record, a live big band recording and a mainstream date for Doublemoon (2001's Twilight). This sextet session finds him in the company of an adventurous and like-minded set of peers. Channeling the spirited energy of hard-bop with the progressive aesthetics of rock music, Spiegel carves out his own niche in the contemporary jazz scene.

Spiegel is joined by a cast of talented, but relative unknowns, including trumpeter David Smith, saxophonist Arun Luthra, vibraphonist Nick Mancini, bassist Gary Wang and drummer Anthony Pinciotti. While their names might not ring a bell now, time will tell.

Opening with the brisk Blue Note styled title track, Spiegel's fleet, clean-toned guitar and Mancini's euphonious vibes lead the way for a string of enthusiastic introductory solos. "Polychrome World" reveals a lyrical side, a moody acoustic meditation on the bossa nova form. "The Last March" follows, clocking in at over 11 minutes, demonstrating an entirely different aspect of the sextet.

Revealing his rocker past, Spiegel churns out distorted power chords and searing, single-note embers as the sextet grinds out a rubato march cadence. The rhythm section balances nuanced, conversational interaction with a surly web of forward momentum while the ensemble unleashes soloists from a collective sonic vortex. Invoking the simmering electro-acoustic fury of Miles' Filles De Kilimanjaro (Columbia, 1968) Spiegel's sextet burns bright with roiling energy.

Demonstrating his traditional chops, Spiegel reharmonizes "Cherokee" with the tricky chord changes of Coltrane's "Countdown," yielding an intense variation on the old chestnut. With empathetic interplay, the sextet stokes a monolithic groove on "Wo Bleibt Die Seele," as Spiegel's soaring guitar feedback knits to Luthra's circuitous soprano saxophone wails in seamless polyphonic unison.

Whether bouncing through the resonant optimism of "Good Night" or digging into the rambunctious collective frenzy of "Herr Boehnke," Spiegel's sextet demonstrates an all-embracing concept. Chimera is indicative of its title, a satisfying hybrid of post-modern chutzpah and traditional know-how.

Track Listing: Chimera; Polychrome World; The Last March; Cherokee; Wo Bleibt Die Seele; Good Night; Herr Boehnke.

Personnel: Russ Spiegel: guitar; David Smith: trumpet, flugelhorn; Arun Luthra: alto and soprano saxophones; Nick Mancini: vibraphone: Gary Wang: bass; Anthony Pinciotti: drums.

Title: Chimera | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: SteepleChase Records


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


SteepleChase Records

The Russ Spiegel Jazz Orchestra: Transplants

The Russ Spiegel Jazz...

SteepleChase Records





Waking Life



Related Articles

Read Live In Healdsburg CD/LP/Track Review
Live In Healdsburg
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Carpe Diem CD/LP/Track Review
Carpe Diem
by Don Phipps
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Exotica CD/LP/Track Review
by Chris May
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Oriental Orbit CD/LP/Track Review
Oriental Orbit
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Brightbird CD/LP/Track Review
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "The Tenth Muse" CD/LP/Track Review The Tenth Muse
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Nomad" CD/LP/Track Review Nomad
by Nick Davies
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Songs Without Words" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Without Words
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "The Child in Me" CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Najwa" CD/LP/Track Review Najwa
by John Sharpe
Published: November 29, 2017