Look Both Ways on the Jazz Charts#1 Roots Music Report – Jazz Chart – 2010 #11 CMJ – Jazz Charts – 2010 #62 Roots Music Report – Top Jazz Albums of 2011
One way to celebrate Django Rehinhardt’s 100th anniversary is to put out an album. Guitarist Ruby goes a bit further and not only gives us a fine outing of Gypsy jazz, but composed all the pieces himself. With help from Evan Price (violin), Doug Martin (rhythm guitar), Spencer Hoveskeland (bass), and guests David Lange and Frank Vignola, Ruby puts us in the spirit of Reinhardt without just recycling the old tunes. He then adds touches of his own that present a unique look at the style. Refreshing in approach, with masterful playing, the quartet distinguishes itself on this excellent release. (JW)
From Vintage Guitar Magazine
Seattle’s Greg Ruby swings with abandon on this collection of stylish Gypsy jazz. Trading solos with violinist Evan Price – and with guest guitar on two tracks by Frank Vignola – this is truly hot jazz.
-Michael Dregni, Vintage Guitar Magazine Nov. 2010
Seattle’s based Greg Ruby Quartet, CD, “Look Both Ways” is a well thought out refreshing delight, no clutter, just straight ahead tasty cool tunes and playing. Recorded at David Lange Studios, with producer Neil Andersson, engineered by Lange this recording just grooves and swings effortlessly. From research it is apparent Ruby charted a course years ago to venture into the world of gypsy Django Reinhardt’s musing, made it his own and has assembled a great musical force to assist with his collection of original tunes. With a nod to one of the finest guitarist I ever met, Dudley Hill, this project would make Dudley not only happy, but also sorry to have missed these sessions. Greg is accompanied by Evan Price, violin, Doug Martin, guitar, Spencer Hoveskeland, bass and if that weren’t enough Ruby rounds out this powerhouse with Frank Vignola on guitar, Kevin Stevens assisting on a couple of bass tracks and David Lange’s accordion on two tracks.
This discs swings from the get on the title track, “Look Both Ways” then with “Easy for you to Say”, continues the tradition of Django effortlessly with Price ripping up the composition on violin, until Ruby starts picking that guitar, then with Hoveskeland coming in on bass, it’s just simply beautiful rhythms, comps and soloing. “Inside Out”, continues the gypsy vamps with crisp picking by all the players. “We Meet Again”, changes directions putting this listener deep into that 1930’s trance of instruments dancing with over tones of tango, waltz and sheer fantasy. The guitar solo and violin work on this cut are unbelievable, just close your eyes and allow it to carry you away. “Zephyr”, is a sparser cut with textures that are warm and inviting, this tune is as its name implies, is up above it all somewhere. This cut is beautifully melodic with a bass & violin line to simply carry one further away. “Suspicion”, tacks back into a simpler swing with Lange’s accordion textures painted from a master’s pallet. “From Afar”, slows the ride down, breaths deep in melodic simplicity allowing the listener to re think this form of jazz. Perhaps my favorite cut, very rich textures, exacting intended placement of instruments in mix, make this tune.
“Swing for Dudley”, shoots out clearly and reminiscent of Hill. Dudley was a bit aloof, if you didn’t know him, he could be a bit of a mystery, at times the cat wouldn’t own a guitar, but when he found one, look out. As a new player in the early 1970’s, I followed the “Skyboys” with Dudley as my first teacher on guitar, still can’t play the darn thing, but have never forgotten his teachings. “Longest Day in the Dark”, slows down the romp and feels like a day on the banks of a river in France, love the lingering violin solo. “What Tales We Tell”, continues this theme, the mix on these cuts are exquisite. “Déjà vu”, lives up to the title sounding more like a Reinhart composition than Django would probably be comfortable with. “Kansas Straight Winds” wraps up this spiraling collection of tunes with an ease that allows the listener to come down from it all and allows the mind to relax. Immediately though the temptation is there to hit replay and take the ride once again through Greg Ruby’s interpretations of this music he so obviously has made his own. A great piece of work made Northwest style makes one happy to be alive even on a rainy day.
the joy of improvisation
greg ruby music ‘03
by Lindsay Hastings
Raised in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Greg Ruby began playing guitar at 14. His defining moment came when the lead singer in his high school rock band failed to show up to a rehearsal; Greg and the rest of the musicians discovered the joy of improvisation without depending on set lists and standard sounds. In this moment he found his passion for music.
Greg migrated to Seattle twelve years ago to attend Cornish. His experience in the music department gave him a strong foundation upon which he has continued to mature as an artist. Greg’s time at Cornish introduced him to educators filled with passion, talent, and drive. Saxophonist Hadley Caliman, composer Jim Knapp, and pianist Randy Halberstadt were all part of the community that fed Greg’s desire to learn. Greg became a part of the Cornish community, one that surrounds students with inspiration and motivation.
Through his studies in jazz, Greg developed and perfected his craft. Jazz held several alluring qualities for him: the traditional roots, the acoustic sounds, and the versatility of the genre, combined with his strong interest in the guitar.
While in school, he also became part of Seattle’s emerging Gypsy jazz scene and began playing with the nationally renowned group Pearl Django. Greg also co-founded the hot jazz string band Hot Club Sandwich. Along with fellow guitarists Ray Wood and Kevin Connor, bassist James Schneider, mandolinist Matt Sircely, violinist Tim Wetmiller, and current Cornish student Joseph Mascorella, the group tours throughout the country and is part of this year’s DjangoFest on Whidbey Island. Praised for their combination of Gypsy jazz, eclectic rhythms, and acoustic swing, Hot Club Sandwich continues to create its own unique sound.
Most recently, the Greg Ruby Quartet released Look Both Ways, his fist solo record featuring his own original compositions. The album features the talents of violinist Evan Price, guitarists Doug Martin and Frank Vignola, bassist Spencer Hoveskeland, accordionist David Lange, and Greg Ruby. The project was generously funded by 4Culture and the Seattle City Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Prompted to create a solo album of original works, Greg was again inspired by the string jazz music of Django Reinhardt. The project started in September 2009 and came together in March 2010. The musicians gathered together the week of the recording, played a few gigs, and then created the finished tracks. For Greg, it was liberating to work with his most talented peers as well as to pay them. Through this experience, Greg had the resources to collectively create the music he composed. The nature of working in groups can be a challenging one, but for Greg, the album is indicative of the group’s talent and expression. The moody tones, exciting rhythms, and flawless sounds come together to solidify Greg’s already successful career in Gypsy jazz music.
Greg Ruby’s joy for creating jazz music can be found in all facets of his work. His music is a conversation between him and his audience. Greg published the Pearl Django play-along book through djangobooks.com in 2003 and will publish the Oscar Aleman play-along in 2011. He also teaches at Seattle Girls School and privately. You can find him Thursdays at the Pink Door in Seattle with his European Café jazz ensemble Bric-a-Brac Trio and at various festivals internationally.