Schuman Nature by Tom
be brief – anyone reading this must know Spyro Gyra’s music. If
not, switch the PC off and go to your local record store and buy their
latest CD “Original Cinema”. Is that a good CD? OK, so now
you know that Tom Schuman is their adventurous keyboard player and he
has been for over 25 years – can that be true?
you’ve heard his spirited soloing on Spyro Gyra’s two live CD’s.
Maybe like me you bought his first solo album “Extremities”. His
third solo outing is a jazz trio recording and it’s been released on
Tom’s own JazzBridge Music label. OK, enough intro…
is the divine opener to this acoustic set. Wayne Shorter’s classic
tune receives a beautiful treatment here – there’s a lot of space
and a light touch from all three players. It has moments of intensity
nevertheless… Bassman Dwayne Dolphin wrote the lovely Portrait of
Adrian, which after a bluesy intro starts to strut just over two
minutes in. Dolphin’s bass lays down a mellow but solid measure and
Schu’ just lets go.
fast and frantic on Joe Farrell’s Moon Germs. Drummer Cora C. Coleman takes a very energetic solo on this
track. I had to catch my
breath at the end of the song. Tom Schuman’s first composition on
the CD is Marion. I really like this because it’s slow and
melodic. I’m not sure that I ever fully appreciated Schuman’s
right-hand technique before. When a guy plays clean like this and when
big chords are holding it all together, it’s a joy. If you don’t
think you’d like acoustic jazz, you should hear this song.
Evans’ Waltz for Debby is pretty and again the players, with
Ameen Saleem on bass this time, have a light touch. Saleem’s
timing’s so good you’ll only notice there are no drums when two
minutes have passed. Two guys – and it sounds like they’re having
fun. The second Schuman composition has a melancholy overtone. Faces
in the Clouds is very reflective. The chord progression is
awesome. Cora C. Coleman’s rimshots literally keep things ticking as
the intensity ebbs and flows. After
a while this song gels beautifully and you’d think you were
listening to Joe Sample in a less funky moment. That’s the only
comparison I’m going to make in this review. Stunning drumming
closes this impressive song.
mood lifts for Monk’s Ruby, My Dear. To me, this is played
with humour. I’ll admit to never having heard the original so I
don’t know if that humour is due to the composer or the players –
it shines out though. You could imagine it played live and going
completely over the top. Quietly – and stylishly – nuts! McCoy
Tyner’s Search for Peace is a lullaby. The soothing brushes
and the warmth of Dolphin’s sparse bass are the perfect backdrop to
late-night dreamy piano. Any radio station which has a “dinner
jazz” spot needs to pick up on this track.
Thelma Faye has a strong melody and I realise that I’m
becoming a fan of his compositions in a way I haven’t always been
when I’ve listened to my many Spyro Gyra albums. There are several
changes of mood and a few listens might be needed to appreciate
everything in this seven-minute song… Schuman’s For the Moment
is a solo piano piece which is reflective and melancholy. It’s a
clever goodbye because you almost think it won’t end when it does.
going to play track 6 again…
about everything you’ve heard Tom Schuman play with Spyro Gyra –
outstanding though much of it is. This is Tom running his own show,
going back to his roots and it’s really a pilgrimage. The truth? I
expected to write a much shorter review and spend much less time with
“Schuman Nature” than I have.
be surprised if lots of people are talking about this CD years from
now. It’s performed with commitment, produced with taste and it’s
a strong and simple statement of a love for jazz.
JazzBridge Music – cat no. JBM303 –
Producers Yvonne and Tom Schuman