George Schuller Pays Tribute to Keith Jarrett's American Quartet on New CD


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“Embracing the lyricism inherent in Jarrett's writing, Schuller's ensemble offers one of the most euphorically adventurous albums in recent memory. Effortlessly moving between freedom and formal structure, Circle Wide embraces the same malleable, inside-outside aesthetic that the American Quartet excelled at. 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."
--Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com

Playscape Recordings is proud to announce the May 13th release of Like Before, Somewhat After (PSR#060507), Brooklyn-based drummer/composer George Schuller's tribute to the music of Keith Jarrett's American Quartet. This is Schuller's second recording with his longstanding working band, Circle Wide, and the long-awaited follow-up to its 2003 homage to Miles Davis' pre-fusion transitional period, Round 'Bout Now (PSR#J021302). Three decades after the demise of Jarrett's underappreciated ensemble, Circle Wide reinvents six of its favorite tracks from the Jarrett catalog, some of which it has been performing live in New York for years, and documents two Schuller originals inspired by the source material.

“Keith Jarrett's American Quartet, featuring saxophonist Dewey Redman, bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian, is generally regarded as one of the more exciting and influential working jazz bands of the 1970s," writes journalist Bill Milkowski in the liner notes. “Schuller pays tribute to Jarrett's American Quartet with his Circle Wide, a remarkably cohesive and exploratory group featuring saxophonist Donny McCaslin, vibraphonist Tom Beckham, guitarist Brad Shepik, bassist Dave Ambrosio and special guest percussionist Jamey Haddad (Jarrett's group was often supplemented by percussionists Danny Johnson, Guilherme Franco or Airto Moreira). Together they succeed in capturing the amazing elasticity and rarefied inside/outside aesthetic that Jarrett achieved 30 years ago."

Critics called Circle Wide's previous release, Round 'Bout Now, “lovely and haunting" (John Chacona, OneFinalNote.com), “surprisingly fresh and sharp" (Aaron Steinberg, JazzTimes) and “a document that is both respectful and ambitious at the same time" (Jay Collins, Cadence). “Thoughtful, articulate and inspired," adds AllAboutJazz.com Senior Editor John Kelman, “Schuller and the group clearly understand the way in which Miles was carefully pushing things in new directions. And, like Miles, while they incorporate inspirations from other sources, their take is altogether unique; this is an album that, without being aggressive about it, pushes the boundaries of group improvisation."

“Drummer George Schuller is a significant member of today's progressive jazz scene," declares JazzReview.com's Glenn Astarita. “Whether performing as a sideman or leading his own projects, Schuller's pen represents a potent and forward thinking mindset." Tucson Weekly's Ed Friedland agrees, writing, “Schuller's compositions create an effective balance between form and freedom; his melodic sense is firmly rooted in the post-Ornette vocabulary, and his rhythmic conception is finely connected to the time/space continuum. As a drummer, Schuller propels, swings hard and has the rare ability to conjure form out of seeming chaos."

For more than 25 years, Schuller has worked with many of the most respected names in jazz and improvised music as a bandleader, composer/arranger, sideman and record producer. His diverse discography as a performer features more than 50 recordings, including collaborations with Ballin' the Jack, Ran Blake, Bill DeArango, Burton Greene, Joe Lovano, Andrew Rathbun, Tom Varner and his father, 2008 NEA Jazz Master, Gunther Schuller. In addition to work with his own bands, Circle Wide and The Schulldogs, Schuller currently performs with the Armen Donelian Trio, Conference Call, Free Range Rat and the Michael Musillami Trio among others. He is also a co-producer of the documentary film, Music Inn, which documents the history of the legendary School of Jazz in Lenox, Massachusetts.

This story appears courtesy of Improvised Communications.
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