All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

324

Jesse Van Ruller: Circles

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Alluding to funk, soul, as well as a number of modern jazz styles, guitarist Jesse Van Ruller’s quartet functions in a space of its own making that is outside of any familiar category. Both difficult to define and hugely enjoyable, the music features a few significant characteristics. Despite the presence of the leader’s electric guitar and Sam Yahel’s Hammond B-3 organ, the band maintains an essentially traditional acoustic jazz sound. Further, Van Ruller, Yahel, tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, and drummer Bill Stewart are all virtuosos who never try to show off or stand out. Although each of them is also a fine ensemble player, they nonetheless maintain a certain, individualistic distance from one another that gives the music a cerebral, somewhat detached feel.

“One” is a bright, sketchy tune (Andrew Hill comes to mind) that impatiently presses ahead to solos by each band member. Displaying a full, twangy sound, the guitarist’s lines hurtle forward almost without pause, running parallel to the constant ping of Stewart’s ride cymbal. Underlying dexterity similar to Van Ruller’s, Blake’s improvisation has a peevish quality, his high notes chafing against the composition’s structure and the rhythm section. For the most part Yahel fashions a solo out of smart melodic fragments and odd digressions. In the midst of a repeat of the head, Stewart blows over a vamp for about 30 seconds. Putting together flurries of strokes to every drum and cymbal, his calculated chaos swings in a rambling manner.

Ruller’s ballad “Here Comes The Sun” has the kind of melody that inspires lyric writers to make fresh observations about matters of the heart. Initially proceeding cautiously, as if fearful of disturbing the serenity, his solo gradually digs deeper, deftly maneuvering around Yahel’s brief chordal swells. Blake takes a more pronounced course, dramatically announcing his presence in the first few bars, then eventually working the upper register of the horn with beautifully executed cries that sound as if he’s searching for something that is, emotionally speaking, out of reach.

The recording’s standout track, Blake’s “Black Dahlia,” is a crafty, quasi-funk concoction (subtly driven by Stewart’s abridged bugaloo beat) that sports a hummable melody, and regularly evolving into straight jazz time. At first seeming oblivious to Stewart’s supple bursts of energy, Blake constructs another stunning solo, playing off of the drummer’s inflections, and progressively generating a density that becomes nearly claustrophobic. Expertly riding the straight-ahead swing of the organ and drums, Van Ruller sounds positively bubbly, at first playing brief, economic phrases, then stretching out, integrating pregnant pauses into several brisk, climactic passages.


Track Listing: 1. One; 2. Circles; 3. Here Comes The Sun; 4. Black Dahlia; 5. 33 Waltz; 6. Zoab; 7. Gone With The Wind; 8. Secret Champ.

Personnel: Jesse Van Ruller--guitar; Seamus Blake--tenor sax; Sam Yahel--Hammond B-3 organ; Bill Stewart-- drums.

Title: Circles | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Criss Cross

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Vera CD/LP/Track Review
Vera
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 18, 2018
Read In Motion CD/LP/Track Review
In Motion
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Marshian Time Slip CD/LP/Track Review
Marshian Time Slip
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Four On The Road CD/LP/Track Review
Four On The Road
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 17, 2018
Read "More Songs About Error And Shame" CD/LP/Track Review More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "Landfall" CD/LP/Track Review Landfall
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 14, 2018
Read "Kinship" CD/LP/Track Review Kinship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "The Way of It" CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 23, 2017
Read "Monochrome" CD/LP/Track Review Monochrome
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 16, 2018