Rick Stone | Fractals

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Fractals

by Rick Stone

A swinging set of originals and a few new twists on standards by this tight NYC working trio featuring guitarist Rick Stone, bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard!
Genre: Jazz: Bebop
Release Date: 

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1. Stella by Starlight (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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5:47 album only
2. Fractals (Feat. Tom Pollard & Marco Panascia) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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4:26 album only
3. Key Lime Pie (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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3:32 album only
4. Darn That Dream (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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7:37 album only
5. Scoby (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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6:32 album only
6. Nacho Mama's Blues (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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6:13 album only
7. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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6:20 album only
8. Places Left Behind (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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5:13 album only
9. Speed Bump (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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4:36 album only
10. Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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4:58 album only
11. The Phrygerator (feat. Marco Panascia & Tom Pollard) Rick Stone Trio & Rick Stone
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5:23 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Rick Stone Trio “Fractals” is Rick's first release in over five years, but he hasn't been sitting idly. His work teaching jazz guitar at several universities as well as the Jazzmobile keeps him close to home, but that “home” happens to be New York City which has possibly the most vibrant jazz guitar scene on the planet. Besides performing regularly with his own group at the Garage Jazz Restaurant, the Bar Next Door and other local venues, Rick spends his “idle” moments practicing, composing, and drawing inspiration from the many great guitarists in the city. The result is the unique set of music presented on this CD.

Most of the songs here are penned by Rick with moods ranging from the jubilant “Key Lime Pie” (a lively samba dedicated to the late Emily Remler) to the introspective “Places Left Behind.” “Scoby” and “Speed Bump” will appeal to more conservative fans of bebop guitar, while the angular lines of “Fractals” (based on “All the Things You Are” in 5/4) and “Nacho Mama's Blues” display a flair for the adventurous. Some standards get a makeover here too; Stella By Starlight begins with an exotic vamp intro in 7/4, while “Darn That Dream” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” receive lush Jim Hall-like reharmonizations. “Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters” is a beautiful but rarely heard Strayhorn tune. “The Phrygerator” alternates between a phrygian modal vamp and a Coltrane-like hard bop chord sequence similar to “Giant Steps.” Bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard are Rick's regular working group and lend sensitive and ever-swinging support and solos.

Rick Stone (guitar) Marco Panascia (bass) Tom Pollard (drums)

Recorded January 3 & 4, 2011 at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, NY
Engineer: Michael Brorby
Mastered at Algorhythms by A.T. Michael MacDonald
Cover photos by Chris Drukker and Alex Stone
Cover design by Chris Drukker

Fractals made #5 on Jazzweek's Top Jazz Albums chart in September 2011. It's received GREAT reviews (which you can read below). But most importantly, it's a CD you'll want to LISTEN to (probably more than a few times)! Order your copy TODAY! (and get a discount if you order multiple copies for your guitar loving friends!)

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Lyle Robinson, Jazz Guitar Life
December 24, 2011

Thanks to the Web, and in later years, YouTube, it seems that I’ve known Brooklyn based Jazz Guitarist Rick Stone for over 15 years. Given that time frame, it’s surprising that I’ve never met him in person, nor have I ever heard an album from this talented player…until now. With Fractals, Stone’s latest CD, I’m pleased to say that it has been well worth the wait!

As a performer and much sought after educator, Rick Stone has enjoyed a healthy balance of both while continually developing his craft as a dedicated improviser and interpreter of the Jazz standard. This is immediately evident from the opening vamp (think Ellington’s “Caravan”) leading into “Stella By Starlight”, as he displays an exotic sense of drama that sets up the memorable melody beautifully. Stone’s solo is a nice blend of up-tempo single note lines, coupled with occasional chord shots and dissonant two note fragments. His note choices reflect a more modern harmonic approach, which he conveys nicely, along with a healthy respect and admiration for the tradition and those who came before him.

The subtle and not so subtle reharmonization of “Darn That Dream”, and to a lesser extent, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and “Ballad For Very Sad And Very Tired Lotus Eaters”, greatly reflect Stone’s reverence towards the Jazz lineage, while bringing something new to the table. In essence, Stone is adding to a body of work that encapsulates the language of Jazz while allowing future players to reflect more on a tune’s given harmonic structure as fluid rather than static. Not an easy task, but one that Stone succeeds at magnificently.

“Fractals”, the aptly titled original composition, is a good case in point. Based on the changes to “All The Things You Are”, Stone’s solo intro is an intricate, complex and fragmented intervallic deconstruction of the changes that is as exciting as it is fresh, while still remaining quite familiar. The up-tempo melody playfully skirts around the original melody sounding quite at home within the changes as does Stone’s solo, which is ever flowing and tasteful.

In fact, flowing and tasteful seems to be Stone’s modus-operandi as he plays with proficient cleverness and deftness, while not allowing his technique to take over, which would be quite easy to do given his ability as a player. It is this attention to the original intent of the tunes that I, and I am sure, others, appreciate. Whether it’s the breezy “Key Lime Pie”, the boppish “Speed Bump”, the Monk-ish “Nacho Mama’s Blues”, the soft “Places Left Behind”, the hip Stompin’At The Savoy-esque of “The Phrygerator” or the medium Basie style swing of “Scoby”, Stone manages to play great without exhausting his chops for the sheer sake of it. An admirable quality to have as a musician!

Of course, Rick Stone is not the only one with admirable qualities, as bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard exhibit their own tasteful abilities as both accompanists and soloists. Panascia and Pollard are top shelf players indeed and a perfect compliment to Stone’s explorations. Check out the Stone composition ‘Speed Bump” for a nice demonstration of how the group plays together. Mind you, every tune features their selfless collaboration in pursuit of synchronicity, making for a most pleasurable CD to listen to.

Also pleasurable to listen to is Stone’s D’Angelico laminate arch top, which has a gorgeous warm, round tone that doesn’t get lost in the mix. Recording engineer Michael Brorby did a wonderful job at getting all the players balanced and mixed properly. The result is a warm sounding record of a great session. Kudos to all!

Needless to say, Fractals would make a wonderful addition to any Jazz Guitar fans music collection. And if you don’t know of Rick Stone yet, drop by his website, or more importantly, check him out in a live situation, you won’t be disappointed!

About the Author: Lyle Robinson is the owner/creator/editor of Jazz Guitar Life, a popular web based publication focusing on the Jazz Guitar Community and related news.

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Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility
September 18th 2011

New York City musician Rick Stone's first album in five years was worth the wait in every respect. Stone has been around the music scene for many years, is a very accomplished guitarist and has taught music at several universities throughout New York. On his new release Fractals playing with Stone are two other outstanding musicians; Marco Panascia (bass) and Tom Pollard (drums).

The music on Fractals should appeal to anyone into jazz guitar as Stone is one of the best in the business. His crystal clear melodic lead work can be found all over this disc so virtually every track is a guitar highlight. Of course, given this is a trio and the other two musicians are world class, Stone gives them ample opportunity to strut their stuff and the music is all the better for it.

This is classic jazz in the truest sense of the word hitting on bebop, salsa grooves and a revamping of some old standards. The album begins with the Victor Young penned "Stella by Starlight" showcasing Stone's jazzy guitar fills and Panascia's stunning bass. The title track features Stone's smooth as silk guitar and Pollard's imaginative drumming. "Key Lime Pie" has an island feel and more outstanding bass work.

One of the album's best tracks is a reworking of the jazz standard "Darn That Dream" with Panascia's humming bass lines and Stone's elegant guitar arpeggios. The music reaches multiple crescendos thanks to Pollard's considerable drum skills. The swinging "Scoby" has elements of be-bop and just an all-around feel good groove with intermittent solos scattered throughout. The highlights do not stop there as the CD has zero filler.

Fractals is both elegant and sophisticated and should please even the most discriminating jazz fan. Recommended…

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Eric Prinzing, Jazzreview.com

Rick Stone's Fractals is an excellent hard bop recording. For this release, the guitarist is joined by his live band featuring Marco Panascia on bass and Tom Pollard on drums. The warm sensitivity these players show each other, undoubtedly perfected through countless hours of playing together, provides the perfect context for Stone's fluid solos. The guitarist's tone is truly gorgeous. It is rich, full and despite its well-rounded low end, always clear. Stone's tone and articulation are so inviting that even the most complex harmonic ideas never alienate the listener. The phrasing is sometimes reminiscent of Jim Hall (a compliment for any guitarist), but Rick Stone has his own sound as well.

The compositions on Fractals allow the guitarist to show off his range as a musician. His playing on "Stella by Starlight" and "Fractals" showcase his ability to build excitement and create direction through his solos. He never wastes notes. Further highlights include the bluesy runs in "Scoby" and the buoyant melodies of "Key Lime Pie," a touching tribute to the late Emily Remler. While Stone's intuitive solos are certainly the focal point of this recording, he is not limited to single-line playing. The group's versions of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and the guitarist's own "Places Left Behind" establish Stone as an excellent and original chordal player. Subtle touches in his playing, like the ringing open strings and volume swells in "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," show that Stone is not just a virtuoso, but a true craftsman of his instrument. The contributions of Marco Panascia and Tom Pollard should not be understated, as the two provide sympathetic support and add swinging solos of their own throughout this record. This is modern hard bop at its best. Recommended.

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Scott Yannow, L.A. Jazz Scene
August 2011

Rick Stone is a veteran bop-based guitarist based in New York. It had been a few years since his most recent recording, so the release of Fractals is a welcom event.

Stone has become more adventurous through the years while developing a very warm tone a little reminiscent of Jim Hall. On Fractals he is joined by bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard who are both subtle and stimulating in their support. The musicians perform four standards and seven originals, some of which are based on the chord changes of standards.

Among the highpoints of this quetly fiery set are "Fractals" (based on "All The Things You Are"), the runthrough on "I Got Rhythm" changes on "Scoby," "Nacho Mama's Blues" which has a tricky melody before becoming a medium tempo blues, a modernized "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," and the guitarist's wisful "Places Left Behind."

The interplay between the three musicians, the way that they play with time and their utilization of unusual but logical rhythmic figures are impressive as is Stone's constant flow of melodic ideas. Fractals, which is available from www.jazzand.com, is an easy set to enjoy and on of Rick Stone's finest recordings to date.

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Zzaj Productions
Issue #117 Reviews

Rick Stone Trio – FRACTALS: I’m not exactly sure of Rick’s rationale for the title of this totally excellent guitar jazz CD, except for the connotations it may have with “gems”. In my mind (& my ears), I get a much stronger vibe of “textures” as I listen to tones as smooth & silky as melted butter on “Key Lime Pie“! On the other hand, when you listen to the title track, “Fractals“, Rick & crew (Marco Panascia on bass & drums by Tom Pollard) create a totally different mood, of parts of a whole split into many facets. It was the majestic & upbeat blues on “Nacho Mama’s Blues” that easily & quickly captured my vote as FAVORITE, though… 6:12 of totally original energy! I’ve been reviewing Rick’s work for many years now, & can tell you that this CD is one of his best… it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, especially for fans of jazz guitar. “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98. Get more information from the “ONE-SHEET“! Rotcod Zzaj

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MWE3.com
August 2011

"JAZZAND - Smooth and with a deft touch, NYC based guitarist Rick Stone returns with his first album in five years with the 2011 CD release of Fractals. The twelve track disc merges Stone originals with covers of jazz standards. On Fractals, Stone clearly demonstrates an affinity for jazz guitar legends such as Jim Hall and Kenny Burrell and he gets tasteful support here from Marco Panascia (bass) and Tom Pollard (drums). Obviously a big fan of John Coltrane, Stone is a masterful improviser and even makes these covers his own."

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Jordan Richardson
July 25, 2011

As the first release for Rick Stone in five years, Fractals feels like the culmination of half a decade teaching, learning and performing. The NYC-based guitarist has indeed been stacking up the experiences, performing regularly at the Garage Jazz Restaurant and other New York venues. He’s also been teaching jazz guitar at many universities and working with the Jazzmobile.

On record, those experiences educating and playing lead to some truly smooth and smart stuff. Stone’s guitar blends elegantly with Marco Panascia’s bass and Tom Pollard’s drums.

The trio is stripped-down and simple, providing a basic sound that really lets the melodies of the songs spring through. Stone’s approach to guitar isn’t flashy or showy; he leaves the tricks for others while he focuses on song construction and on grooving with the group. That’s not to say that Fractals or Stone’s work as a whole lacks invention, but the guitarist certainly has more of a passion for the whole than for individual glory.

Take the flare at the beginning of “Nacho Mama’s Blues” for instance. He jams out with angular lines worth cranking up the volume for, but the number quickly settles into a full-group jam that lets Pollard’s drums tap to the front along with Panascia’s bass. The three focus entirely on smoking through the groove.

On “Key Lime Pie,” the trio pushes through a cymbal-heavy samba dedicated to the late Emily Remler. It’s a sparkling piece of music, almost reaching exuberant heights in its praise and admiration for the Wes Montgomery-influenced Remler. Watch for a square of funky bass soloing to accent the piece nonchalantly.

There are a few standards on Fractals, too. The classic “Darn that Dream” is touched with a resonating reharmonization that is hard not to feel touched by. And the compelling Strayhorn rarity “Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters” is a complex but remarkable number with gliding guitar and spacious splashes of percussion.

Fractals is a smart jazz album from smart jazz musicians. These three cats know how to slip into the quiet comforts of these great songs and their forbearance and control draws out the best in each sonic segment. Stone’s trio happily ensures a reverence for the music that is all too rare in today’s “look at me” music business.

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Sarah Madges- Muzikreviews.com Contributor
July 7, 2011

It’s no mystery why Rick Stone Trio chose to name this album after a fractal, a geometric shape like a snowflake wherein similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales. Fractals is the aural companion to this figure, with “Stella By Starlight” setting up the delicate complexity that is to be built on throughout the album. In this opener, the single-note soloing gives way to punctuated chords that underline the upright bass solo, which, in turn, bleeds smoothly into a drum solo of a similar pattern. The title track issues more angular arpeggios, showing Stone’s adventurous side, while “Key Lime Pie” delivers a samba, its pleasantly upbeat melody complemented by sibilant cymbals and thickly plucked bass.

“Darn That Dream,” breaks away from the preceding songs with mostly full chord improvisation and a droning bass. The drum’s crescendo periodically breaks up the legato passages and lush reharmonizations, continuing to build the swinging “timefeel” introduced in the first song. Even with the intricate arpeggios building tension with the bass and drums, there is an overall pulse that propels the album. The guitar improvisation is rhythmically driven, but also melodically complex, simultaneously prompting one to tap their foot and sink into daydreams, as is especially true for the following track. Dedicated to Scoby Stoman, an avid swing and jazz dancer and drummer of the 1950’s, “Scoby” also instantly invokes a separate musical figure, its recycled reprise sounding like Petula Clark’s sixties hit, “Call Me.”

The album sounds like something that would play at a Manhattan party in a Woody Allen movie. Woody Allen’s character would make a snarky comment about it being “elevator music,” but would soon notice that the rest of the crowd enjoyed the clever contrapuntal licks like those in “Nacho Mama’s Blues.” The following “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” balances out the somewhat jumpy noodling with rich and somber chords, and “Places Left Behind” continues in a more nostalgic vein with strummed chords disintegrating into ornamented phrasing. “Speed Bump” picks things up with brighter tones and a quicker pace than its predecessors. As with the other songs, the relationship between the instruments is tight; Stone’s archtop guitar is smooth and articulate while serving up a nice dish of traditional bebop. The eponymous “Ballad For Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters” changes things up with a beautifully languid rendition of a Strayhorn piece—the guitar’s improvisation drips like honey and the hushed cymbals sound like light rain.

Stone closes the album with another cleverly titled song, “The Phrygerator.” The instruments each explore the possibilities of the Phyrigian mode in a deft bop chord progression, ensuring that the listener isn’t left feeling too wistful or missing the swing rhythm dominating the album. Although some songs drift into each other almost too smoothly to differentiate between them, the album exhibits sophisticated technique with fluid passages that remind you of this man’s dedication to jazz—he currently teaches at JazzMobile, Hofstra University, and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and has frequent shows throughout the city. If the rest of his career didn’t prove it, this album erases any doubt that Rick Stone is a force to be reckoned with.

Key Tracks– Darn That Dream, Scoby, Ballad For Very Sad And Very Tired Lotus Eaters

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Nick DeRiso, All About Jazz.com

Rick Stone picks more obvious standards elsewhere on his forthcoming release, Fractals. There is Victor Young's “Stella by Starlight," given a vampy album-opening 7/4 intro; and a lush take on Jerome Kern's “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." Stone even swings his way through a seven-and-a-half minute version of Jimmy Van Heusen's “Darn That Dream."

But it is here, on an update of his rarely heard tune from Duke Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn, that Stone does his best interpretative work. Beginning with an undulating signature of notes, he draws the uninitiated in, before his regular working rhythm section of bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard join the proceedings.

First there's Panacia, in a low moan; and then the softest of brush strokes from Pollard. Emboldened, Stone offers one of the album's most elliptical and involving performances. His playing is as exquisite as it is deft, very in keeping with the sometimes painfully shy visage of the diminutive, deeply underrated composer himself. Ellington's band nicknamed Strayhorn “Swee' Pea," and romantically intuitive tunes like this help us understand why. Stone, playing in a series of almost unbearably beautiful high notes, captures perfectly the bittersweet sentiments, the deep romantic separation associated with “Lotus Eaters."

Fractals, Rick Stone's first project as a leader in more than five years, is set for release on July 11 from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Jazzand Records.

About the Author:
Nick DeRiso, writing from various kudzu-covered locales across the Deep South, has explored jazz, blues, roots and rock music for Gannett News Service and USA Today, Blues Revue Magazine, AllAboutJazz.com, Rock.com, Popdose, Living Blues magazine, the Louisiana Folklife Program and NoDepression.com, among others. He’s also been programmer and host for a series of radio shows across the same genres. So, yeah, you could call it an obsession.

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Ron Netsky, Rochester City Newspaper
September 28, 2011

Putting on an album called "Fractals" might seem a bit off-putting to a jazz fan. The term refers to a structure composed of parts, each of which approximates the whole form. Jazz is about endlessly creative variations on themes. Sure enough, the title tune of guitarist Rick Stone's CD begins with a musically mathematical excursion that sounds like the splitting of cells into new organisms. But not to worry; after the introduction Stone is off on a solo, improvising beautifully over and around the modular chord pattern. And while his compositions are cerebral, they certainly don't lack for swinging. In fact some of them --- notably "Speed Bump" and "The Phrygerator" --- combine lightning speed with tricky inverted melodies as catchy as they are complex. And Stone puts his beautiful ringing tone to work reinventing several classics, including "Darn That Dream," "Stella By Starlight," and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." A veteran of the New York scene, Stone has led groups with sidemen like Kenny Barron, Eric Alexander and Ralph Lalama and is an in-demand sideman himself. On "Fractals" he enjoys the able assistance (and occasional fine soloing) of Marco Panascia on bass and Tom Pollard, drums.

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O's Place
November 26, 2011

O's Notes: Guitarist Rick Stone leads a trio with Marco Panascia (b) and Tom Pollard (d). They play a cool bop set of eleven songs, seven originals with four freshly arranged standards. Rick has an inviting style that draws the listener into his melodies. "Key Lime Pie" and "Darn That Dream" are good examples of this skill. He maintains that easy going approach all the way through the set even on when the tempo slows on "Ballad for Very Sad And Very Tired Lotus Eaters". This a fine set.

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John Peters, The Borderland

Compared to rock music when the electric guitar is used in jazz it is invariably in a mellow fashion - by that I mean that all the histrionics, the effects pedals and over-egging that a rock musician brings to the instrument is kicked out and the guitar's natural ambience and tone is allowed to shine through. That is the case here with Fractals, by the Rick Stone Trio. Mr Stone is the guitarist, and it seems at times as if he is simply caressing his guitar and it is purring back at him. With an album title such as Fractals you would be forgiven if you expected to hear jagged, angular music, but in reality this is late night ambience, gently swinging, very melodic music. A trio format is always a very intimate musical setting and the rest of the trio here [Marco Panascia - bass and Tom Pollard - drums] provide a supple and pliant support for Mr Stone's guitar. The album contains eleven tracks, a mixture of original tracks composed by Rick Stone and a selection of classic songs from the American and Jazz songbooks. They are: Stella By Starlight, Fractals, Key Lime Pie, Darn That Dream, Scoby, Nacho Mama's Blues, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Places Left Behind, Speed Bump, Ballad For Very Sad & Very Tired Lotus Eaters, The Phrygerator. In its quiet and assured way Fractals is a quintessential album, it showcases a very fine guitarist and his colleagues and also presents jazz in a coherent and perfectly listenable manner. The music is melodic, easy on the ear and brain and will sucker punch many listeners who will tell you they don't like jazz. On top of that Rick Stone is a nimble fingered axe man, with some very impressive technique in those fingers. This is a great album and if you enjoy guitar music you should check it out and support these musicians.

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Sari N. Kent, The Celebritycafe.com
August 8, 2011

The Rick Stone Trio’s latest album, titled Fractals, is a combination of original compositions, new, distinctive flairs on old standards and is Stone’s first release in five years. Alongside Stone on his guitar is his regular group, bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard. In between teaching jazz guitar at several universities, the New York-based Stone performs regularly with Panascia and Pollard at local venues such as the Garage Jazz Restaurant and the Bar Next Door.

The opening track, titled “Stella by Starlight,” begins with smooth yet exotic guitar from Stone as Panascia’s bass folds in intermittently as Pollard’s drums appear in the background. Stone strums speedily on his guitar yet he maintains singular precision with each note. Pollard’s drums chime in every now and again as Stone’s guitar and Panascia’s bass all mesh together to form a dreamy tone. As the track continues though, Pollard’s drumming become swifter and more noticeable.

The title track is the album’s second track, which leads off with a guitar intro from Stone that some might feel has a techno-like bend to it. Pollard’s drums are faint yet sprightly in the background as Stone’s guitar rhythm becomes more melodic and he exhibits his adroitness on his instrument by accentuating particular notes.

“Key Lime Pie,” the album’s third track, is a bubbly samba number dedicated to the late jazz guitarist, Emily Remier. It starts off with playful drumming from Pollard and guitar play from Stone. Then, Panascia’s hushed bass can be heard in the background, its deep notes resonating despite their low volume. Yet, this track differs in that Pollard’s drumming takes the forefront, thus kicking the beat up a notch or two, making this one danceable ditty.

The fourth track, titled “Darn That Dream,” is initiated by a richly luxurious sounding guitar intro by Stone. The lushness with which Stone strums each guitar string could make listeners envision hearing this song as they enter an up-and-coming piano bar with its star pianist showing off his seductive side, Pollard’s drums and Panascia’s bass can be heard lightly in the background but then Panascia’s bass takes center stage, emphasizing even further its sheer sensuality. The entrancing pull of this track makes its title apt as it could musically signify its refusal to grant the listener a reprieve from a certain nighttime fantasy.

“Nacho Mama’s Blues” is the album’s sixth track. It leads off with dazzling guitar work from Stone and animated drumming from Pollard. Its infectious bluesy-beat might make listeners feel inclined to dance as Pollard’s drumming grows more vigorous.

The eighth track, titled “Places Left Behind,” commences with somber guitar play from Stone. The title is fitting because its rhythm could musically convey to listeners thoughts of locales of the past and their effect on the present. Pollard’s drumming is gentle in the background as Panascia’s bass gets a solo with Stone’s guitar and Pollard’s drums sporadically making their presence known.

“Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters” is the tenth track on Fractals. It begins with Stone’s unhurried guitar work sounding a tad techno again, then trailing off. This beat could musically denote the title’s subjects, members of Greek mythology who inhabit a North African island replete with lotus flowers that cause them to drift into a state of lethargy. Listeners who feel down and out could relate to Stone’s sluggish guitar work and, while Pollard does make a lively drum splash at times, the overall gloominess of the track returns with Stone’s heavily subdued strummings.

To conclude, the Rick Stone Trio’s Fractals has both upbeat and sorrowful tracks that are sure to appeal to every type of jazz fan. But, whatever the mood of a particular track or a particular listener, Fractals is sure to bring forth dramatic emotions in anyone who listens to it.

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Dave Walker, Davewalkermusic.com

Rick Stone has been called one of the finest straight-ahead jazz guitarists in New York City, and one listen to his CD Fractals will show you why. This is no-nonsense jazz with a classic dark tone and killer chops.

Before I get into the music I have to tell you that I was surprised and very pleased to see Rick Stone thank his practice partner Peter Mazza in the liner notes. At this point I have read hundreds of acknowledgement pages on CD's where the artist thanks everyone including the short order cook who made breakfast, but this is the first time I can recall anyone thanking a musical practice partner. No one gets to this level of performance without thousands of practice hours, and that includes playing with others who are of an equally high calibre and who are willing and able to give constructive criticism. It is great to see an artist give credit where it is definitely due.

Obviously Rick Stone's work with Peter Mazza paid off. This whole album is infused with confident virtuosic playing. From the very start of the up-tempo version of Stella By Starlight we know that this trio can really cook. No one is looking to take a break during this wild but fascinating ride.

The album takes its title from the second track, Fractals. In case your math classes are an old, dim memory, let me explain that fractals are rough-edged shapes that have similar shapes at increasingly smaller levels of detail. Of course you don't need to know that to enjoy this fine composition by Mr. Stone, but it is great fun to listen for these smaller fractal shapes and compare them to the larger themes. Or you can just enjoy the interplay of all three musicians as they give their own takes on the concept. Fun stuff!

Key Lime Pie is another Rick Stone original, and another up-beat tune that keeps the great feeling of this CD going. Mr. Stone weaves incredibly long lines of lovely melody that will be the envy of many players but the delight of listeners.

Things finally cool off a bit with the solo guitar intro to Darn That Dream. Bowed bass and cymbal splashes add perfectly to the atmosphere. The ambience continues with softly plucked bass and brushes on the drums. A wonderful take on a classic tune.

Scoby is a lightly-swinging original tune with a deceptively deep groove. This is a song to lift your mood and carry you along no matter what type of day you may be having. Perfect for a jaunty stroll or a carefree drive.

Nacho Mama's Blues is a funky, fun-filled romp with sharply inflected, very cool blues changes. These blues are up-to-date and full of influences from the jazz world and beyond, establishing Rick Stone as a composer to watch - and listen to.

Once again a solo guitar intro to a standard relaxes the pace, this time leading to an almost leisurely reading of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. This is yet one more great example of Rick's 'endless melody' style. But wonderful as his soloing is, his comping during his band mates solos is superb. Here is a musician who listens to the band and knows how to lay down an unobtrusive but perfect accompaniment.

Places Left Behind is an elegaic original with all of the introspective beauty of any standard tune. Another song attesting to the versatility of Mr. Stone as a songwriter.

And just to show how versatile he is, we are next treated to Speed Bump. The humor of the start-and-stop phrasing is only the start of the fun here. Rather than a speed demon, we are shown a gently swinging composition of slightly off-kilter, asymmetric but always enjoyable set of phrases that cohere marvellously into another fine tune.

The final standard is the all too rarely heard Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters by Billy Strayhorn. This track alone will win many fans for Rick Stone and the trio with an original take that stays true to the unique feel of this great song.

The album ends with another original, The Phrygerator. This up-tempo tune has all sorts of modal inflections, including but not limited to Phrygian. Each member of the trio gets to sign off with some typically fine playing.

With this CD Rick Stone has achieved what so many artists search for: a completely personal sound that communicates to a wide audience. Virtuosity and artistry are never sacrificed for a surface popularity, but jazz fans will recognize the excellence of this group on first listening. This is definitely a trio to check out right away!

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C. J. Bond, Jazmuzic.com
July 10, 2011

The title of this new Rick Stone CD: "Fractals," sounded singularly intriguing; it sent me scurrying to the dictionary for my own edification; it turns out, they are: Geometrical or physical structures having irregular or fragmented shapes at all measurements between a greatest and smallest scale such that certain mathematical or physical properties of the structures, as the perimeter of a curve or the flow rate in a porous medium, behave as if the dimensions of the structure (fractal dimensions) are greater than the spatial dimensions.

Eschewing the temptation to deconstruct this Pythagorean-like definition in favor of focusing on Rick Stone Trio's musical "dimensions," reveals an album of splendid originals by Stone, combined with time-tested ballads and standards by such venerated composers as, Victor Young, Jimmy Van Heusen, Billy Strayhorn and Jerome Kern, imbueing the album with an aura of freshness, modernity, immediacy and depth.

Rick Stone's handling of standards and ballads is deft, sure, and well rounded out by the evenness of Marco Panascia's bass and Tom Pollard's drums. Stone sets the 'standard', so to speak, by selecting Victor Young's fascinating "Stella by Starlight" as the CD's opener; a title evoking an ethereal, mysterious, alluring beauty, yet Stone ingeniously casts it in a marvelously, glowing, bop-ish light, diffused through a cool energy that keeps the melody centered and reflective of the warmth and delicacy intended by its composer.

Stone's original compositions resonate with sparkling energy and delightful emotion; with well detailed musical thoughts, and cohesive musical arguments. His guitar tone is clear, rounded, and its color is warm, almost velvety; they accentuate the proficiency and versatility of his composing skills; ranging from medium tempo, modern 'bluesy,' thought-composed (Fractals; Nacho Mama's Blues), to melodic 'lilting' swing (Scobie; Key Lime Pie; Speed Bump), to slow tempo (Places Left Behind); each tune containing challenging and invigorating phrasing that is never square or boring, and blended with melodic, rhythmic elements carefully chosen to build to a clear climax.

Considering the trio's command over the more subtle playing on (Darn That Dream; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters), it is tempting to overlook their prodigious technique on the more rhythmically stimulating tunes (Fractals; Key Lime Pie; The Phrygerator), where bassist Panascia and drummer Pollard dexterously advance an adaptable beat that weaves an ancillary fabric affording Stone's guitar the respite for his own improvisations; each in the process contributing their own solo work, underscoring or delineating Stone's urgent guitar riffs.

Along with the sublime musicianship permeating the date, the order and organization of the CD's tunes assure ultimate listening pleasure. Stone has artfully and tactfully bracketed his original compositions (in pairs) between recognizable, first-rate ballads (Stella by Starlight; Darn That Dream; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters); maintaining the trio's "freshness" and easy reach of his listeners' musical palate; never leaving their tastes wandering too long in what might be the unfamiliar musical territory of his compositions; and ensuring that they are never far from the comfort of a "musical home." This deliberate, or inadvertent serendipity, has the broader effect of building and releasing the CD's collective musical tension; tacitly formulating a heightened sense of expectation and suspense that add immeasurably to complete listening satisfaction and enjoyment.

"Fractals" is the first album produced by Rick Stone in five years. Hopefully his audience will not have to endure another long wait before his next recording is released. This may, or may not, have anything to do with fractals, geometric or physical structures and measurements. Most assuredly though, the sum of all the musical parts of this new CD from Stone, seems to fit very nicely into the spectrum of spatial dimensions that were available; making this an outstanding musical date for The Rick Stone Trio, by any measurement, on any scale, great or small.

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George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon's Jazz Scene
August 2011

As it is in most of the arts, New York City has long been considered the mecca of jazz guitar. Stone is a new name to me, and he accounts for himself most impressively leading a trio of Marco Panascia, bass, and Tom Pollard, drums. Stone really covers the gamut with standards such as "Stella By Starlight," "Darn That Dream," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and the luscious but unfairly obscure Billy Strayhorn tune, "Ballad For Very Sad And Very Tired Lotus Eaters." Among the originals, try the title tune, "Fractals," a clever cousin to "All The Things You Are"; or "The Phrygerator," with more than a hint of the chord structure of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Stone can also "cook it up" as he does with vigor on "Nacno Mama's Blues." Throughout the set, his warm and radiant tone is sometimes reminiscent of another New York guitar phenom, Josh Breakstone. This is a nicely balanced, engaging set from a guitarist who deserves whatever musical rewards come his way.

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Kyle O'Brien, Jazz Society of Oregon's Jazz Scene
August 2011

New York guitarist Stone has put out a pretty straightforward, straight ahead trio disc here, but it's not without quirky charms. It begins with a standard, "Stella By Starlight," but it gets more interesting with the title track — the angular lines of the head are based on "All the Things You Are" in 5/4 time, which gives a nice musical juxtaposition. Since it's a trio, there isn't much diversity in the soloing, but both bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard do ably on their opportunities. It's Stone's fluid bop lines that are highlighted here, though, and his full-bodied tone shines in its mellowness. Stone's originals are more interesting than his standards. "Nacho Mama's Blues" shows a sense of chordal adventure, while "Speed Bump" shows nice picking work. Stone is a fine straight ahead player, and this trio disc lets his sound loose.

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Chris Spector, Midwest Record
July 1, 2011

A straight ahead jazz guitar cat that knows how to swing, Stone is another one of those rising cats that proves mainstream doesn't have to be a dirty word. He obviously loves Wes without being slavish to the memory, this is the stop to make for some fire without distracting pyrotechnics. Hot stuff throughout.

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RJ Johnson's Modern Music
July 6, 2011

Rick Stone is a straight ahead jazz guitarist living and working in New York City. Stone’s newest recording is interesting for a few reasons. His tone is actually closer to that of the modern generation in that he prefers a dark tone, and uses a minimal amount of vibrato and other inflection. In fact, if Stone added some reverb and delay, you may mistake him for another guitarist such as Jonathan Kreisberg. Stone’s lines sound like a combination of Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery, although he has forged a style of his own. This album includes a strange variety of standards. The tune “Stella By Starlight” is about as common as it gets. However, Stone also includes his rendition of Bily Strayhorn’s “Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters”, a tune which has never been widely recorded. Overall, fans of jazz guitar will probably enjoy this album. Stone’s modern lyricism makes him easier to than more aggressive players (Adam Rogers for example). However, he is not as adventurous in his compositions as most modern players have been. This record is still unmistakably jazz by any standard.

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John Hammel, Homegrownradionj.com
Concert Reviews
Rick Stone Trio
Rick Stone - guitar - Marco Panascia - bass - Kenneth Salters - drums
La Laterna - The Bar Next Door - 129 MacDougal Street- NYC - NY
August 26, 2011 7:30 Set

The Bar Next Door is your usual cramped New York City jazz club but one with a fine Italian café menu and an engaging and relaxed atmosphere. On this particular evening, on the cusp of the arrival of Hurricane Irene, the Rick Stone Trio provided a terrific set of straight ahead post bop jazz with an edge. Interspersing his originals with thoughtful and spirited covers, Mr. Stone all evening displayed considerable chops honed to an off-beat sensibility that seemed at times to strain at self imposed reins. I wished he had sometimes cut loose into even more adventurous Sonny Sharrock type territory. I thoroughly enjoyed his playing during this first of three sets, yet longed to imagine the extraordinary flights of fancy he was capable of by letting his imagination soar even more freely. Lest I be misinterpreted, let me emphatically state that Mr. Stone's Trio set was extraordinary on many levels with dazzling displays of virtuosity on parade by all members of the trio.

The set list was culled from Mr. Stone's excellent new cd Fractals on the Jazzand label. The cd also features Marco Panascia on bass but not Kenneth Salters on drums. Both Mr. Panascia and Mr. Salters were in fine form on this evening and contributed cogent musical insight coupled with precisely meticulous techniques. Mr. Salters shone throughout the evening with dazzling displays of stick and brushwork, adding texture and nuance to every number presented, whether tossing off the exciting poly-rhythms on Stella by Starlight, or the energetic neutron implosions of Fractals to his quietly stormed duet with Mr. Stone on Key Lime Pie not to mention his subtly shaded snare intro on Scoby.

Mr. Panascia for his part provided a rock solid foundation as well as taking lead turns throughout the evening. His is a fluid technique that fully complements Mr. Stone's own gracefully dynamic fingerwork. He particularly shone on an extended bass intro to the jazz chestnut Body and Soul with innovative chord and single note harmonic choices. Whether employing arco or pizzicato fingering or coming over the body of his instrument into thumb position his intonation never wavered and his sense of time and swing were exemplary.

Mr. Stone's contributions were one of enormous insight into the jazz canon, whether on his own tunes or the three standards in this set. He is schooled in the vernacular of jazz and brings a rock solid and highly fluid technique to bear on all his single note runs and chord choices. His playing is alternately rigorous and playful at the same time. He delights the ear by centering his tone among the tradition but always throwing in an off kilter chord or note here and there to add an edge of excitement. His samba Key Lime Pie, a dedication to the late guitar great Emily Remler, delighted in its pulsating swing and drum/guitar interplay.
The title tune from Rick's new CD Fractals, offered a different textural tincture from Mr. Stone, with a rich plumminess that extended itself through the 5/4 time signature. He was shadowed in tone by Mr. Panascia on this number, further enhancing the full flavor of the musical offering.

Mr. Stone's composition Nacho Mama's Blues, a swaggering tune, closed out the set with more quirky chord choices and began with another guitar/drum duet that blossomed gorgeously with the entry of Mr. Panascia's concretely dynamic bass playing. This number was a perfect example of the complexity and easy flow that this group combines in presenting an exceptional set. Regarding the future of jazz; it's in good hand with Mr. Stone and his trio.

You should rush to catch this artist as he continues to play these smaller venues in NYC. He is richly deserving of a wider audience. Before that audience elevates Mr. Stone to the next level, check him out so you can tell all your friend's that you knew him when.

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Bob Gish, Jazz Inside Magazine
August 2011

Call it hard bop, call it fusion, call it modal,call it intervallic, call it fractionalized, call it “fractalized,” call it great good stuff, especially for guitarists. Stone knows his scales, his arpeggios, his fret board, his changes, his theory, and his timbre and tonality. And he knows how to balance a set list with new compositions and old standards.

He does much of it himself, certainly placing himself and his rather tubby-sounding, yet appealing guitar in front of his trio. But this isn’t solo guitar; it’s ensemble playing, taken all in all. Guitarists are, of course, cut
from many cloths. Similarly jazz guitarists all have a unique sound and approach.

Those players who like long lines, lots of notes, even notes approaching and departing from a center, punctuated by strategic chords played by someone who knows what he’s doing (perhaps to a fault) will go ape over this CD. If fractal patterning is a favored sensibility, then here’s the cat’s meow. Even the more
mellow set of players, those more in the tradition of Joe Pass, will find much to learn from here.

If there is a down side to the entire recording, at least for stodgy old melody prone geezers, it’s this: all the tunes sound a bit too instructional, too theoretical and analytical at the cost of that oft sought after quality called soulfulness—that ability of the likes of Miles Davis, Johnny Smith, or B. B. King to travel “miles” on one, long, sustained note, the ability to make the listener relish each road sign or root.

But shucks, analysis isn’t always paralysis and such is the case here. Professor Stone presents eleven fine lessons in how to really play the guitar.

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Tim Fischer, Just Jazz Guitar
November 2011

Rick Stone demonstrates his recent musical explorations on his jazz guitar trio release Fractals, featuring a balanced mix of eleven standards and original compositions. Stone comes across as a solid bebop guitarist, updating his harmonic and melodic language to include the developments of the younger generation of New York guitarists. Odd-time modifications to standards, wide-interval exercises, and exotic modal intros are just a few of the more modern devices Stone explores throughout the album.

Stone's command of the jazz vernacular shines on the original compositions "Scoby" and "Speed Bump." "Scoby," a rhythm changes-like tune, is taken at medi-um tempo and features excellent double-time lines, balancing advanced harmonic excursions with melodic inventiveness. Stone's bebop writing is presented in a guitar/bass unison line on "Speed Bump," written on the chord progression to the Jerome Kern classic "Nobody Else But Me."

More modern jazz guitar stylings are heard in the odd time updates to "Stella by Starlight" and "Fractals," an original jazz line in five based on "All the Things You Are." The introduction to "Fractals" further demonstrates Stone's fascination with modernity with a wide interval study reminiscent of fellow New York guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg. Stone also presents two ballads, "Darn That Dream" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," both of which are reharmonized and feature excellent solo guitar introductions.

Recorded twenty-nine years after Rick Stone first arrived in New York, the album Fractals exhibits his musical talent and enthusiasm, and serves as a natural continuation of his musical development.


Reviews


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Eric Elias

Fractals
Fractals is a wonderful CD. Rick's playing (and the band's) is musical and tight. There is a wonderful interplay between the players. Rick's originals are tasteful and fit in well with the standards. Stone's soloing is fantastic, from his tone to his lines, not a note is wasted. He should be a household name in the guitar world.