Canadian composer/guitarist Jamie Ruben's debut, Groove-O-Ly-O-Scene
, is a very atmospheric affair, but its stylistic intricacies are not at the expense of substance. Although the opener, "AQ Giraffe," is short on improvisation, its almost Hawaiian-sounding heavy groove serves as a good introduction that sets the theme for the rest of the record. The lazy nocturnesque "Pennapa," on the other hand, has plenty of substance, with Ruben's Bill Frisell
-like strumming contrasting well with trumpeter William Sperandei''s laidback, Freddie Hubbard
There is a cinematic quality to the music. "Albino Bison" plays like a '70s film soundtrack, its earthy rhythmslaid down by bassist Steve Zsirai and drummer Ryan Granville-Martinsupporting Ruben's bluesy, complex, Wes Montgomery
-tinged solo, followed by Sperandei's clean, muscular sound and the blaxploitation stylings of keyboardist Dafydd Hughes. "Bangkok" evokes a hot and hazy day in the city, with Sperandei's fast and urgent trumpet creating the feel of the crowds and traffic, as Ruben's fluid guitar improvisations reflect the peoples' laidback attitude, contrasting well with life's busy pace.
Equally evocative are the late evening, relaxed trumpet and guitar conversations on "Lanta," and the very short "Kwan-Teen," which perhaps features the most angular guitar sounds to be found on the CD, especially when combined with pauses that echo the deep vibrations of the rhythm section.
Things become a bit repetitive on the disco-like "Pai Crowd," with its danceable vamps, but Hughes' soulful keys, with their Joe Zawinul
feel, save the piece. The two-part closer, the languid "Monsieur Sildey," gets back into an island groove and, although it goes on a tad long; the guitar and keyboard solos are short, but they are complimentary and, by echoing the earlier "AQ Giraffe," the track brings the disc to a natural conclusion.
Despite a few rough spots, this is an interesting opus, both with its imaginative compositions and tasteful and creative improvisations, serving as an introduction to the career of an exciting and innovative musician.