317

Gary Versace: Outside In

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Coming in on the most recent wave of popularity for the Hammond B3 organ, Gary Versace has quickly established his reputation on the New York scene. A versatile and chameleon-like musician, Versace's approach to the instrument is unique in that he strives for his own sound, while avoiding the copycat sounds or runs of such modern icons such as Jimmy Smith or Jack McDuff. Most recently, he has brought much of his talents to the fore working with drummer Matt Wilson's Arts and Crafts ensemble.

His first session as a leader for Criss Cross, Outside In finds Versace leading a quartet with saxophonist Donny McCaslin, guitarist Adam Rogers, and drummer Clarence Penn. While the line-up may suggest your typical greasy organ combo record, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, all of the pieces are Gary's originals and each one taps a different groove or mode of exploration. Like many of his contemporaries, Versace is not afraid to let the shape of melodic phrases dictate the structure of his originals. This means that a piece like "The Grand Inquisitor" flows along with deceptive ease, even though it's built upon a challenging combination of odd meters.

A number like "Blue Soap" is certainly basic in its form, yet Versace chooses a Tristano-esque lead for sax and guitar. McCaslin is a real asset throughout, heard on both tenor and soprano, the latter heard to particularly good advantage on "A Thousand Words." Of course, it goes without saying that Rogers is perfect for this type of recital. A veteran of many forward-thinking units including Chris Potter's Underground, the guitarist compliments any group through his unique sounds and comping. Drummer Penn is also quite organic in his approach and it would be hard to imagine a better-suited drummer for this music.

Although there's an introspective quality to some of these pieces that can lead to a sense of blandness at times, it's encouraging to find a musician like Versace who is not afraid to stretch beyond the tradition in an effort to find his own muse. It might have been interesting, however, to revisit a few standards by coming up with some novel new arrangements.

Track Listing: Dangerous Land; The Grand Inquisitor; Blue Soup; Now is Then; Poster Boy; Pinwheel; A Thousand Words; Many Places.

Personnel: Gary Versace: Hammond B3 organ; Donny McCaslin: tenor and soprano sax; Adam Rogers: guitar; Clarence Penn: drums.

Title: Outside In | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Criss Cross

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
For Which It Stands

For Which It Stands

Sunnyside Records
2011

buy
Outside In

Outside In

Criss Cross
2008

buy
Time And Again

Time And Again

SteepleChase Records
2005

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun27Thu
Gary Versace with Scott Robinson
Hatch Recital Hall
Rochester, NY
$30
Jun27Thu
Gary Versace with Scott Robinson
Hatch Recital Hall
Rochester, NY
$30

Related Articles

Read Phoenix Rising Album Reviews
Phoenix Rising
By Jack Bowers
June 24, 2019
Read Last Works Album Reviews
Last Works
By Doug Hall
June 24, 2019
Read The Change Album Reviews
The Change
By Roger Farbey
June 24, 2019
Read City Night Album Reviews
City Night
By Doug Collette
June 24, 2019
Read Waves Album Reviews
Waves
By John Eyles
June 23, 2019
Read Elevate Album Reviews
Elevate
By Doug Collette
June 23, 2019
Read Connor Sings — Kenton Swings Album Reviews
Connor Sings — Kenton Swings
By Jack Bowers
June 23, 2019