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With his debut album as leader, Canadian guitarist Jamie Ruben leads a quintet of Toronto's finest session and touring players in carving out a groove of relaxed and laidback light jazz on Groove-O-Ly-O-Scene. Inspired by the music of Medeski, Martin & Wood, The Bad Plus and the incomparable Frank Zappa, Ruben's music attempts a tasteful hybrid without Zappa's outlandish antics.
Offering an all-original selection of music, the light grooves begin with "AQ Giraffe" and continue throughout the disc. Of the nine tracks presented, "Kwan-Teen" and "Introduction to Monsieur Slidey" serve as introductions, leaving seven full pieces. In sampling the meat of the album, there is a hint of a worldly sound which may be due in part to Ruben's seven years as a jazz performer in the Far East, as well as touring in the UK, Holland and Belgium.
On "Albino Bison," Ruben plays the guitar like a rock star, in front of William Sperandei's splendid trumpet lines. "Pennapa" comes across as an airy, organic number sporting a soft melody, while "Bangkok 504" reflects a darker themeperhaps in reference to his year-long stay in Thailand. "Lanta" possesses similar qualities in tone and texture, while still remaining light in structure. With a little help from keyboardist Dafydd Hughes and steady beats from drummer Ryan Granville-Martin, "Pai Crowd" surges forward as one of the album's defining pieces.
Demonstrating his chops, Ruben delivers the finale, "Monsieur Slidey," sliding his fingers up and down the scales with ease and grace. Definitely not a swinging affair, Groove-O-Ly-O-Scene marches to a different tune, a much lighter approach and a softer groove led by Jamie Ruben's simple but superb guitar voice.
Track Listing: AQ Giraffe; Albino Bison; Kwan-Teen; Pennapa; Bangkok 504; Lanta; Pai Crowd; Introducing Monsieur Slidey; Monsieur Slidey.
Personnel: Jamie Ruben: guitar; Steve Zsiral: bass; Ryan Granville-Martin: drums; William Sperandei: trumpet; Dafydd Hughes: keyboards (1, 7-9).