217

George Schuller's Circle Wide: Like Before, Somewhat After

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
George Schuller's Circle Wide: Like Before, Somewhat After
On Like Before, Somewhat After, drummer George Schuller reconvenes his group Circle Wide, last heard on its 2003 Playscape debut Round 'Bout Now, a tribute to the pre-fusion electro-acoustic work of Miles Davis. Once again tapping the 1970s for inspiration, Schuller delves into the discography of pianist Keith Jarrett's classic American Quartet, which featured Dewey Redman (reeds), Charlie Haden (bass) and Paul Motian (drums).

Criminally underrated, Jarrett's American Quartet embraced the diversity of its time, seamlessly blending numerous genres and styles with a sublime virtuosity on par with the classic small groups of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Schuller's tribute sheds new light on Jarrett's seminal work, making Like Before, Somewhat After a vibrant homage.

Embracing the lyricism inherent in Jarrett's writing, Schuller's ensemble offers one of the most euphorically adventurous albums in recent memory. Expounding at length on the pianist's folksy themes, the ensemble breathes new life into these enduring melodies.

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin's rugged contributions reinforce his well-deserved status as a star on the rise. Channeling Redman's robust lyricism and angular attack without resorting to imitation, his circuitous salvos on "Rotation" and "The Survivor's Suite, Part Two" unfurl with Coleman-esque logic.

Chameleonic guitarist Brad Shepik unveils a multi-hued palette, from the funky wah-wah fueled oscillations of "Common Mama" to the scorching ascension of "The Survivor's Suite, Part Two." Together, Shepik and McCaslin spin an electrifying web of sound that undulates with bold, lyrical cadences.

Tom Beckham's scintillating vibes provide a sturdy harmonic foundation on an array of tunes, from atmospheric modal exoticism ("Survivor's Suite, Part One") and soulful gospel fervor ("De Drums") to funky Latin workouts ("Common Mama"). Bassist Dave Ambrosio deftly navigates Schuller's fluidly shifting rhythms, with occasional help from percussionist Jamey Haddad.

Effortlessly moving between freedom and formal structure, Circle Wide embraces the same malleable, inside-outside aesthetic that the American Quartet excelled at. Jarrett's compositions are stretched, re-arranged and re-imagined without distorting their foundation, demonstrating their timeless appeal. Schuller's two original dedications, "Dew Point" and "Back To School" reveal lessons learned, unfolding with a lyrical economy and adventurous spirit worthy of their inspiration.

Like Before, Somewhat After invokes the bittersweet intensity of Jarrett's formative work, making this richly rewarding tribute one of Schuller's most beautiful and accessible albums.

Track Listing

Dew Point; Common Mama; The Survivor's Suite, Part One; The Survivor's Suite, Part Two; Rotation; De Drums; Back To School; Encore, b.

Personnel

George Schuller: drums, bells, percussion, other rattly things; Donny McCaslin: tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute; Brad Shepik: guitar; Tom Beckham: vibes; Dave Ambrosio: bass; Jamey Haddad: percussion (2-4, 6, 7).

Album information

Title: Like Before, Somewhat After | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Playscape Recordings

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.