Review by Nick DeRiso, Reviewyou.com
A stylistic tour de force, this self-titled trio effort manages to take in many of jazz music’s most notable influences, even tosses in a dash of Pacific island flavor, but it never falls into the rote imitative traps of so many of today’s more traditionalist recordings.
That’s a credit to executive producer Ron Jackson, a guitarist of mature yet inventive dexterity.
“Samba de Oueijo” finds Jackson leading the threesome through an echoing, atmospheric journey across a humid nightscape. His guitar work recalls, by turns, Pat Metheny’s sleek modernity and Wes Montgomery’s riffy elation. Meanwhile, bassist Norbert Marius is a propulsive counterpoint, moving with cat-like quickness underneath Jackson’s impressive runs. Neither manages to catch drummer Matsuura Hiroyuki, however. He is always a cymbal-tap ahead of them. Together, they create an album-opening statement of purpose.
The following “Excerpt of Tina III” takes a more considered turn, dropping the undulating rhythms. But Jackson, a New York-based recording artist and instructor, stays firmly rooted in a clean, percussive groove. He’s just as adept at playing these fleet swinging turns as he was with a lyrical samba. Marius’ bass solo is deeply expressive, but never showy.
Fasten the seat belt, and place your tray in the upright position, though. For all of the reserved classicism of “Except,” Burning Gums then proceeds to turn “Killer Joe” — Benny Golson’s soul-jazz classic — into a greasy R&B number. Jackson and Marius dive into a deep-fried series of riffs, with Jackson taking over the familiar horn signature, even as Hiroyuki works the sizzling edges. Playing over clips that sound like they come from news broadcasts, a police scanner, or maybe a NASA transmission, the trio proceeds to transform into a bouncing, nasty little funk group. This ends up being more soul than jazz, and to thrilling effect.
“Sacred Love,” alas, is a more conventional jazz trio number — a pretty ballad, but not much more. It’s not long, however, before Burning Gums has ramped up into “Going Bush,” which features a lilting, sun-splashed island beat. Marius, who produced Burning Gums, at first takes a backseat on this one to the concise interplay between the elegant and vivid runs by Jackson and these brilliant bursts of syncopation from Hiroyuki. But the bassist then dashes to the front with an impish solo that eventually defines the track. When Jackson returns, it’s at a quickened pace, almost like he’s skipping along — seemingly emboldened by what came before.
“So What,” a signature Miles Davis composition, begins as a dreamy, almost psychedelic exploration into the far reaches of imagination. Jackson’s tone, warbly and expressive at first, eventually coalesces into a sharply incisive series of improvisations. Meanwhile, Hiroyuki bashes away with an insistence that eventually frames the song’s middle portion. Marius’s solo, quietly effective but never completely at rest, represents the final stop before Jackson returns the song to a mirage-like reverie. “So What” ends as it began, with an undefined expressiveness, not unlike the free-form experiments Davis himself was at work on a decade after he originally cut the song in the late 1950s. This new version wouldn’t be out of place on signature fusion projects like In A Silent Way.
“Mangrove DoReMi” takes Burning Gums further into this contemplative space, adding environmental sounds to an initial free-form structure that allows the trio to explore their instruments with an impressive tone and deftness. Jackson eventually hits a note, and repeats it, then repeats it again and again, sparking a flurry of activity from the others. Their symbiosis is such that the song instantly takes flight.
The subsequent and soulful “Madras Parallel,” though it doesn’t approach the rib-sticking R&B delights of Burning Gums’ remake of “Killer Joe,” underscores again this trio’s ability to blend contrasting styles. They are as funkified as they are swinging as they are influenced by Jackson’s roots in the Philippines. “Park Slope” then concludes Burning Gums on ruminative note, as Jackson constructs concentric circles around a portentous rhythm from Marius and Hiroyuki.
Even at the end, it’s clear that there isn’t much these three can’t do. This self-titled release could have been twice as long, and never gotten old.
Review by Nick DeRiso
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
Ron Jackson, CD Review
Release Date: 2011
Cotton Goods Studios New York, NY
Label: Roni Music
By Eric Frazier May 10, 2011
Jazz Inside Magazine
Artist: Ron Jackson –Guitar
Ron Jackson – Guitar
Norbert Marius - Bass
Matsuura Hiroyuki – Drums
Ron Jackson is a worldly musician whose influences stem from vast and far reaches of the earth. This statement rings evident both literally and figuratively. Ron has roots in the Phillipines, Norbert hales from Hungary, and Matsuura comes from Japan. You can imagine that his music will draw on his international experiences and background as a well traveled artist.
1. Samba DeQueijo – Composed by Norbert Marius; This is a classic Samba which comes to fruition through the intricate guitar statements offered by Ron Jackson. Matsuura Hiroyuki lays down some very exciting rhythms as the music fades out!
2. Exerpt of Tina lll – Composed by Ron Jackson, Opens with energy and an unmistakable drive that is syncopated and hormonal. Ron’s guitar playing blends wonderfully with the syncopated drum back drop and the steady hand of Norbert Marius on bass. Ron and Norbert communicate effortlessly back and forth on their instruments at one point. It is then followed by a concise and quite interesting drum solo by Matsuura.
3. Killer Joe – Composed by Benny Golson, Arranged by Norbert Marius on this project; Here is a unique version of Killer Joe. It is quite funky and will bring out the dance in you! Norbert sets the tone on this one with a standout bass funk. Ron brings the message home as he reminds you of the guitar licks from some of the great seventies music in the past. It is very interesting to hear how tasteful Ron brings the melody out on guitar.
4. Sacred Love – Composed by Ron Jackson; The very first note lets you know that it is a special tune. It recalls the easy listening setting for Jazz lovers and for someone special to be with while taking in music that gives such a wonderful feeling. Norbert’s bass solo accentuates the thought. Matsuura’s drum solo allows the imagery to materialize as he aids in constructing the picture of love that is put forth on guitar by Ron.
5. Going Bush – Composed by Ron Jackson; Gives you a Caribbean flavor. Ron presents the melody quite eloquently on guitar. You will surely visit the Caribbean Islands here if your vacation is not set yet!
6. So What – Composed by Mile Davis, Arranged by Norbert Marius on this date; This a wonderful example of an arrangement that makes a classic come alive again. Ron delivers beautiful guitar lines while Norbert plays freely on bass and captivates you with a solo that unknowingly draws you in from his free style. Ron enters with the melody and you can then consider yourself to be in guitar heaven. It is all held down by matsuura on drums making the rhythm consistent, electrifying and forward.
7. Mangrove DoReMi – Composed by Norbert Marius; The guitar and bass open this song as if they were speaking to you in words from a far away land. The sound of birds tweeting in the background serves to open your mind to the possibilities of nature and an appreciation for all that simulates beauty in it. The guitar leads into a bass solo which then blends back into the melody guitar, the birds and the accents delivered by the drums. This tune definitely inspires the tranquility inside you.
8. Madras Parallel – Composed by Norbert Marius; gives a bossa nova type feeling that moves so freely into an up tempo bebop mood during brief junctures. Matsuura takes this tune out with a riveting drum solo during its conclusion.
9. Park Slope – Composed by Ron Jackson; is thematic of the quaint and viberant Brooklyn, New York neighborhood. Ron paints a sultry and inviting mood in the storyline of his guitar notes. The notes seem to represent his fondness for the neighborhood and its beauty which evidently he appreciates in a great way.
“Burning Gums” is a CD you will no doubt appreciate through and through. This recording is exquisitely original, tasteful and a must for your music collection.
Representing three continents, Burning Gums is a fresh new color on the seemingly endless palette of jazz guitar bands. The trio's debut album contains nine exciting tracks showcasing high caliber musicianship expertly navigating between the many styles of music from samba to swing. Interesting compositions and unusual arrangements of classics like So What and Killer Joe will keep listeners pleasantly alert. Norbert Marius’ smooth bass grooves provide solid foundation for guitarist Ron Jackson’s sophisticated improvisations, which are expertly matched by Matsu Hiroyuki’s energetic drumming, all creating the very special sound of Burning Gums. A sound that will make its mark! A true jam.
Ron Jackson is a New York based jazz guitarist, composer, arranger, producer, recording artist, and instructor. To say Ron Jackson is well traveled would be an understatement. He has performed and recorded in over 20 countries as a bandleader and ensemble performer, and is well established in the international jazz scene. Ron's style of guitar playing and compositions is a blend of jazz, and other American styles such as soul, rhythm and blues, pop that is influenced by his roots of the Philippines. Ron is experienced in many musical idioms and brings it all together in his unique approach to playing jazz guitar.
Ron has recorded and performed with jazz, blues and World music, greats such as, Taj Majal, Little Anthony and The Imperials, James Spaulding, The Boys Choir of Harlem, The Metro Mass Choir, Mor Thaims Drums of Fire, Irene Reid, Hal Singer, TK Blue, Sarah Dash, Gene Anthony Ray, Cecil Brooks III, TAO, Melvin Rhyne, Jimmy McGriff, 5 Guitars Play Mingus, Cissy Houston, Kevin Powell,Ralph Peterson, Russell Malone, Larry Coryell, Jack Wilkins, Don Braden, Craig Handy, David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness,Renee Manning,Earl Mcintyre, Clark Gayton, Benny Powell, The Metro Mass Choir, Benny Golson, Randy Weston, Ron Carter, Oliver Lake, Leo Wright, Jaki Byard, Mulgrew Miller, Winard Harper, Akua Dixon, Kenny Drew Jr., Olatunji, Gwen Guthrie, Dee Dee Bridgewater,Raul Midon Jimmy Cobb, Rufus Reid, Larry Coryell, Jeff “Tain”Watts, Bernard Purdie ,Dewey Redman, Howard Johnson, Benny Powell,Dr. Lonnie Smith, Gary Bartz, John Hicks, Ron Blake, Akira Tana, Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers and Candido to name a few.obb, Rufus Reid, Larry Coryell, Jeff “Tain”Watts, Bernard Purdie ,Dewey Redman, Howard Johnson among many others.
Norbert Marius started taking piano lessons at the age of eight. After developing an interest in jazz and funk, he began playing upright and electric bass at the age of 14. He studied at the Bartok Bela Jazz Conservatory in Budapest, the Cologne Music Institute, earned numerous scholarships before graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1987.
Since moving to New York City in 1988, Mr. Marius has performed with the Fifth Dimension, Melba Moore, Screaming Headless Torsos, and many others. He has toured the US, Europe and Japan. Besides being a bassist, Norbert is an active composer, and producer of dozens of instrumental and vocal tracks.
Screaming Headless Torsos,David Fiuczinsky,The Fifth Dimension, Melba Moore,JoJo Mayer, Rodney Holmes,Jackie Terrasson,Ed Cherry,Roy Meriwheather,Gil Silverbird,Arturo Tappin,Mark Johnson, Delmar Brown,Bill Sims Jr.,Denzell Miller,Marlon Browden,Jerome Van Rossum, Victor Jones, John Lang (Mister Mister)
Mr. Matsuura has performed and/or recorded with Grammy winning bassist, Hector "Maximo" Rodriguez (Spanish Harlem Orchestra); Grammy winner, Oriente Lopez; multi-platinum producer/musician, Vernon Jeffrey Smith (Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul, Heather Headley, Des’ree, The Family Stand); Grammy nominated R&B/jazz pianist, Marc Cary; legendary jazz pianist, late Harry Whitaker; award winning living legend jazz singer, Sheila Jordan; one of the New York’s finest pianists, Ray Gallon; distinguished composer/arranger, leader and pianist of the Gotham Jazz Orchestra, Mike Holober; jazz trombonist and author, Scott Reeves; the most sought after guitarist of the generation, Adam Stoler (Richard Bona, Keiko Matsui); classically trained R&B singer-songwriter, Yahzarah (Grammy winning Erykah Badu); jazz~gospel singer/Broadway legend, Boncellia Lewis; one of the most active R&B~rock bands in NY, Shelley Nicole’s blaKbushe; the busiest band in NY, Yaz Band; reggae legend, Milton Henry; jazz~reggae guitarist, Justin Rothberg; the best reggae/ska band in NY, Jammyland Allstars; world music~African reggae singer from Ivory Coast, Sekouba Diakite; unique mix of Latin music and hip hop, Welfare Poets; percussionist of 2005 Latin Grammy nominated Los Pleneros de La 21, Juan Usera; R&B~hip hop star, Akil Dasan ( T h e R o a d T o S t a r d o m With Missy Elliot on UPN); the most promising singer songwriter of the generation, Sophia Bastian…. He has shared the stage with such Grammy winners, hip-hop group the Roots, Corey Glover of Living Color, and legendary jazz bassist Charnett Moffett.