Composer and vibist Chris Varga has a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master of Music degree from DePaul University. He has also studied vibes at the Berklee College of Music with Victor Mendoza. Varga has performed in Chicago area as well as at the JVC Jazz Festival in Seoul, South Korea, and the Singapore International Jazz Festival. Among the artists Varga has worked with include Steve Slagle, Dave Stryker, Darren Barrett and Peter Bernstein. Dancer In is a collection of original and jazz standards performed by a five member group that rotates personal throughout the tracks.
The thing that is so immediately impressive about this group is the unified intellect that shines through in each of the nine tracks. Throughout the CD the ensemble is obviously well versed in the material as well as the arrangements. They effortlessly move through the tunes with a deft but light hand and always play in the most artful of manner. The excitement of the group is driven by drummer Mark Ferber. Whether he is propelling the ensemble through some tricky time changes, or laying back in support of the soloists, Ferber has a feel for cymbals lacking in so many of today’s young drummers as well as a polished and subtle manner for handling intricate background feels.
His work comes through best in pieces like the trio take on Steve Swallow’s "Falling Grace." Behind Varga, Ferber is busy in the manner you wish all drummer’s were busy; tight accented rhythmic fills that add color, but don’t detract from the work being done above. Behind Clark Sommers’ wonderful bass solo Ferber is intricately tied into the moment of improvised creation so acutely the two sound of one mind. Guitarist Han Woongi is also a standout musician. Obviously influenced by guitarists like Joe Pass and John Scofield, he plays with a lyricism all his own. His solo on "From This Moment" is sheer delight.
Varga is an exceptionally accomplished vibraphonist whose lines dart and dash, yet move forward in a series of perfectly balanced sequences that build upon one another. There is not a single track where Varga doesn’t shine. His feel for the ballad, as on "Ringhaus Memories," is spot-on. Whether laying down lines as on "Star Eyes," or cutting a rug as on "Dancer In," Varga is an exceptional artist. Add to this the incredible support and high level of musicianship supplied by his band and this disc may easily end up on a number of critics top ten discs of the year - this recording is really that good.