What to do, what to do, what to do? That question must always be swimming around the mind of the creative performer. And for those who reap some sort of critical success with their work, it's magnified, as the listening public, no doubt, also ponders the next move. When faced with this endless sea of choice, many in said position try to outdo their previous successes, going bigger and broader in scope or retreading over the ground of their prize-winning projects. Guitarist Mike Rud isn't one of them. Nobody could've blamed him if he created a sequel-of-sorts or tried to think bigger after taking home the 2014 Juno award in the category of "Vocal Jazz Album Of The Year" for the finely-wrought Notes On Montreal (Self Produced, 2013). But he ended up going the other way, pealing away personnel until he was all that remained.
Miniatures finds Rud playing and singing standards, the occasional original, and a humorous take on a familiar ditty from J.S. Bach. No guests appear, no overdubs were used to aid the production, and nothing takes attention away from Rud, so his split-brained brilliance constantly shines through. Most who simultaneously sing and play guitar tend to be forced by limitation to let one skill work in obvious deference to the other, but Rud's ability to separate and connect his guitar playing and vocal work is astounding. Yes, everybody knows him best as a guitarist, but that doesn't stop him from flexing his flexible pipes while working magic with his hands. Rud flies through "Just One Of Those Things" and never misses a beat, he's able to create space and atmosphere in his open approach to "Nature Boy," and he demonstrates extreme independence in his merging of vocal bass lines with fleet-fingered guitar melodies on a brief and impressive "Dexterity."
Rud isn't averse to resting his voice on occasion, as demonstrated during an instrumental take on "Emily," but the draw here is in the way he merges his talents. He delivers delightful old favorites like "September Song" and "But Not For Me," plants his tongue firmly in his cheek by turning Bach's "Invention No. 8" into a vocalized meditation on slow practice, and pulls the listener into his world with pared-down versions of winning originals like "Florentine" and "Parc Lafontaine," both of which appeared on Notes From Montreal. Mike Rud's skills as guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger, and technically-adept craftsman are all tied up together in this neat little package.
September Song; Just One Of Those Things; Nature Boy; Sweet Lorraine; Such A Night; Florentine; Robin's Walk (Smile For Me Baby); Emily; But Not For Me; Parc Lafontaine; You Must Believe In Spring; Dexterity; You Have To Practice Slow (Bach Invention No. 8); Laura.
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