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Bebop Spoken There

Charlie Musselwhite: "I used to see these posters in the windows of the [Chicago] blues clubs advertising Elmore James and Muddy Waters which knocked me out. I was making a note of the addresses and at night I'd go back and listen to the blues until 4-5 in the morning." - (Blues Matters! Aug/Sep 2021)

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13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Album review: Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble - Jagged Spaces

Skip Grasso (guitar); Phil Ravita (double bass/6 string elec. bass); Benny Russell (tenor/soprano saxes); Greg Small (piano); Nuc Vega (drums).

Here in the UK we probably think that great modern American jazz only happens in NYC or LA just as, back in the day, it was thought that the best UK jazz only happened in London. Newcastle's Emcee 5 put paid to that theory and five gigsters, active in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, do likewise "over there". 
The Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble combine to produce some fiery straight-ahead jazz. Nine original compositions: 4 by Grasso, 2 each by Ravita and Russell and 1 by Small make up a very listenable album that should let the world know that the East Coast extends way past NYC.

The two leaders are fine soloists but, for me, the star man is Russell particularly on tenor.  He attacks the instrument like a man possessed without loss of musicality and indeed, when the heat is off, he proves to be a very lyrical player. He's marginally more controlled on soprano although still very fluent.

When I hear an album of originals of this quality I'm both pleased and saddened. Pleased by what I'm hearing but saddened that it's unlikely that any other band will pick up on them. 

I'd like to think that one day I'll go into a jam session and someone will say "How about Benny Russell's All About Cynthia?" Or any decent original that's been written in recent years.

Getting back to Jagged Spaces If I'm ever back in DC I'll make a point of catching the Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble rather than visiting the Lincoln Memorial.

Lance

Release date January 15, 2021

Jagged Spaces; Her Life Incomplete; Songhai; Blue Sunshine; Circles; All About Cynthia; Latin For Leandro; The Homecoming; Chasing Shadows.

1 comment :

Russell said...

Benny Russell impressed during a recent live stream set by Greg Hatza's ORGANisation at Keystone Korner in Baltimore. Commanding but not overbearing, if he turns up in Newcastle one Tuesday night he'd make a big impression at a Black Swan jam session!

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