Jazz Guitar – Music & Words

October 30, 2012

Starting in 1996, master guitarist Dale Bruning and jazz writer and producer Jude Hibler have presented live shows under the banner of their Colorado-based company, Jazz Link Enterprises. In particular and of especial interest to all who love the music of the great American songwriters are their Timeless Music of Great Composers Concerts. In these, Jude narrates the life of a chosen composer from the golden age of American popular music, explaining with anecdotes the origins of some of the most memorable songs. Then, Dale performs superb interpretations of these songs, usually with his various-sized ensembles. Among many songwriters whose work they have performed in this way are Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart/Oscar Hammerstein II, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter. In these shows, the narration is informed and succinct, adding immeasurably to the audience’s enjoyment and understanding of the music. From time to time, through their record company, Dale and Jude have released CDs of some of their shows. Understandably, though sadly, the narration is omitted although the CD buyer can enjoy a taste of this through the accompanying liner notes. On the CDs so far released are tributes to composers Harold Arlen, Harry Warren and George Gershwin. dalebruning-haroldarlen cdThese albums are: The Timeless Music of Harold Arlen (Jazz Link Enterprises JLECD 6029), The Timeless Music of Harry Warren (JLECD 7938), Music Of Gershwin, By George! (JLECD-6804). On all of these releases the significance of the particular composers is vividly apparent and it also emerges why they have long found favor with jazz musicians.

There are other concert collaborations between Dale and Jude on different themes and among these is one that was recorded live at Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge in Denver. This is Classical Connections – Vol I & Vol II (JLECD 4860 & JLECD 7482). The choice of music here is, as always, exemplary and includes Besame Mucho, Lover Come Back To Me, The Breeze And I, Baubles, Bangles And Beads, which sit comfortably alongside pieces from the classical repertoire, by J.S. Bach, Joaquin Rodrigo and Aaron Copeland. Particularly interesting are examples of the way in which popular music has drawn from the classical repertoire: classical connections cda Chopin Fantasy, used as the base for I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, and Sarasate’s Gypsy Airs, reinvented as You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. Among Dale’s accompanying musicians on these occasions are pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassists Mark Simon and Michael Moore, and drummer Paul Romaine. On Classical Connections, flautist Ali Ryerson is added and her skill on both concert flute and alto flute is wholly admirable.

Other fine examples of Dale Bruning’s playing released by Jazz Link Enterprises include Reunion (JLECD 440072) and Just Between Us (JLECD 0240). dalebruning-reunion cdOn these double CDs he is joined by fellow guitarist (and former pupil) Bill Frisell for richly evocative explorations of the great heritage of jazz guitar; and in the case of Just Between Us, exemplary bassist Michael Moore joins Dale and Bill. On Reunion are song book classics, like Body And Soul and All The Things You Are, and jazz standards, such as ’Round Midnight and Anthropology, all of them revitalized by these outstanding musicians; while on Just Between Us can be heard Whisper Not, Dancing in the Dark, Her Tender Countenance. Just Between Us CD cover Then there is Easy Does It! (JLECD 8711), on which Dale plays the music of a long-time friend, Charles Eakin. dalebruning-easy does it cdWith his quartet (Chiaraluce, Simon, Romaine), Dale explores elegant melodies with warmth, wit and understanding. This is an exceptional tribute to a fine composer and for some it will be an introduction to someone thus far overlooked.

Throughout all of the live performances and CDs presented by Dale Bruning and Jude Hibler can be heard seriously good music, played with skill, flair and imagination by fine musicians who with seemingly effortless ease convey their love for some of the best songs ever written. My reviews of some of the albums mentioned above can be seen in Jazz Journal.

Examples of the writing of Jude Hibler can be found through her website, which is where some of her excellent photographic work can also be seen.

Included on Dale Bruning’s website are details of his guitar music books, the third of which, Dale Bruning’s Jazz Guitar Series, Vol III: Phrasing & Scales, scheduled for publication late 2012 – early 2013.

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