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So Far From Home by The Shook Russo 4Tet Featuring Greg Gisbert

So Far From Home should be in every straight-ahead, jazz lover's house. The quartet of Amy and Pat Shook, Frank Russo, Tim Young and guest trumpet master Greg Gisbert energize this album from start to finish. This is the quintet’s second album and they are in excellent bebop form. They perform nine original tracks, five by the bassist Amy Shook and the balance by saxophonist Pat Shook. Each song has a special catch, from melody to harmony, bridge to shout chorus, saxophone or trumpet solo there is a clever twist to every composition. The piano, bass and drums are tight, loose, free flowing and plainly delightful. One of my favorite classical jazz albums from 09.

There are great liner notes with this record, composer’s notes: "A big thank you to Greg Gisbert for joining in on the second CD", and for listeners of this album an incredible treat. Gisbert is x Buddy Rich big band, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Horace Silver, Maynard Ferguson, Bobby Shew, Maria Schneider Orchestra, John Fedchok, and the Smithsonian, Carnegie Hall , and Vanguard Big Bands. He brings his big band chops to this small ensemble and on every lick he plays, your ears perk up to his sophisticated swinging sounds.

So Far From Home immediately grabs your attention with song number one, "Sindar’s Revenge" an upbeat, exciting composition by Pat Shook, it blasts out an introduction that pins you to your seat. Pat Shook plays in harmony with Greg Gisbert. Gisbert gives way to Shook and saxophone takes over with harmonic flow and graceful pulse. Gisbert rejoins and skillfully blows trumpet runs through a wide range of tones, each and every one, pure magic.

The recording is not all about bebop, there are some dark, post bop moments such as in the tune "Insomniac" by Amy Shook. When a bass player can’t sleep she composes a song and of course it is bass heavy. The introduction, a haunting bass melody that is played moderato and with stirring passion. Amy Shook builds tension in her blues march groove to climax with the inclusion of the rhythm section and the harmonious horns that float, swirl, roll and boil to a gentle simmer, giving way to graceful poise.

The hard bop sound of Art Blakey is found in the heavy drumming style of Frank Russo, most notably "Mr. Twister" a dynamite Pat Shook composition that gives Gisbert ample room to play off the melody and blow some wicked sounding licks. Russo is in the pocket with fantastic chops that are dynamic, inspiring and intensely heavy.

Song to song, So Far From Home just gets better with every listen. Did I mention this record swings? Excellent job, must see this group live.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Shook Russo 4Tet Featuring Greg Gisbert
  • CD Title: So Far From Home
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Summit
  • Tracks: Sindar’s Revenge, Gasafrass, Live and Learn, Insomniac, Mr. Twister, 49 West Blues, So Far From Home, Monolith, Wax and Wane
  • Musicians: Amy Shook (acoustic bass), Pat Shook (tenor saxophone), Frank Russo (drums), Tim Young (piano), Greg Gisbert (trumpet, Flugelhorn)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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