Listening to bassist/composer Bruce Gertz is one life’s simple pleasures without a doubt!
So, I was honored to check out his recent pair of releases:
Singularity – featuring Bruce’s incomparably well played solo acoustic contrabass, and Blue Cube – a quartet outing featuring saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, pianist Tim Ray, and drummer George Schuller (who is also the son of conductor and music educator Gunther Schuller).
The opening Bergonzi penned title track, Blue Cube, is a true work of beauty. Bruce adds light, depth and an amazing arco-to-pizzicato solo that I only wish lasted twice as long! Bass First, Face First is a completely improvised piece that follows the groundwork laid by Bruce’s introduction. Kudos to drummer George Schuller for his ability to add ferocity through a feather light attack, which adds a great touch to the music! A Conversation We Had is a wonderful example of the play between long-time friends in good company. In addition, Tim Ray’s gliding solo captures this moment in time masterfully. Aperture is the hardest swinging tune on this delightful outing – as the melodic composition serves as a new outfit for the Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz standard Alone Together. Squeeze combines the best elements of Ellington’s Squeeze Me But Don’t Tease Me and (the Great) Scott LaFaro’s Gloria’s Step that results in a loping, easy dance that belies the skill-set of this sly quartet. Several times while listening, my head turned to contemplate what was being played and how the musicians were responding to the matter!
The Heart Of A Champion is an inspirational piece that calls the listener into the accountability of perseverance. This is the “best” played tune from Blue Cube, and Bruce lays in a jaw dropping solo! The interplay between these four great musicians is absolutely first rate! So Lie is a play on Mal Waldron’s Soul Eyes and the composition is a political statement about our current National state of affairs. Nicely done, Bruce! Finally, Trajectory is a brilliant and, at times, dark waltz that is served well by the quartet’s makeup. Throughout Blue Cube, Bruce’s tone, musicality and ability is stunning, and as the composer of seven of the eight beautiful tunes on this release, his heart, soul, and passion are truly heard. This group needs to be seen as well as heard, and Blue Cube is one of the most well presented collection of music I have heard in a long time!
Must Hear Tunes: Blue Cube, A Conversation We Had, Aperture
Meditation is the word that comes to mind as I spent several days with Bruce Gertz’s solo release Singularity. Though Singularity features six compositions, the longest piece clocks in at a mere 4:41, and all of the music is presented has a calm, thoughtful, warm and very much “at home” vibe that gives this release a feeling of familiarity that is typically lacking in much of the solo music I’ve heard over the years – even if the playing is nothing short of “super human”. The primary feature of this collection is Bruce’s tone and his seemingly bottomless well of creativity and sheer ability to (not so simply) play BASS!
The world of jazz could well use more of his wit, warmth, wisdom, and forward thinking! Although each tune presents well stated (and, again, very well played!) ideas, my favorite tune is Slinky! In short, there is something so close to who Bruce is in this composition that the singing of this song lightly touched my soul! I like it! Every bassist should own, and breathe Singularity.
Must Hear Tunes: Singularity, Slinky, Clear Night