Nucleus is a San Francisco Bay Area-based jazz quartet, who have been playing together for 10 years. They are so named because the four musicians comprise a core group that has appeared together in a variety of musical settings over the years. They have performed as a unit in many jazz venues, in musical theater productions, in classical concerts, with tango singers and dancers, in theme shows and in celebrations and services at churches and synagogues. They are, in a word, versatile.
Yuletide Jazz is their first CD, and captures their talent for interpreting standards (in this case, Christmas Carols and other seasonal tunes) in a fresh approach and in various jazz styles. There are arrangements in latin jazz, bebop, blues, jazz waltz, ballad, swing, and "jump". The slyly urbane tone and sophisticated musical language make this an album that can be listened to year-round, not just during the holidays. The sound is clear and balanced with an excellent mix, and the playing is tasteful and accomplished. The soloing is creative and spontaneous, warranting repeated listenings. Like all good "jazz standards", the carol tunes that these arrangements are based on have survived a long time because they are good, solid melodies.
Jean Bartlett of the Pacifica Tribune writes: " 'We Wish You...', titled ambiguously on purpose by Steve Cassinelli, rolls out some ghostly 'better-watch-out-and-listen' piano chords before it takes off into a snap, crackle, and soar. The Nucleus Jazz Quartet CD, 'Yuletide Jazz', is raise-the-rooftop hot - it's glowing!"