"Jamie Ruben suggests what Carlos Santana might sound like if he ever made an ECM album" Douglad Payne, Sound Insights
"Guitarist Jamie Ruben's Groove•O•Ly•O•Scene is an absolute treat for the ears...... it posseses a marvelously spacious ambience, woven through with fantastic grooves" Florence Wetzel Allaboutjazz.com
“Jamie Ruben's music is infectious, and his sound conveys the richness of his own personal journey. " -Alan Bryson Jazzmatazz
“Imaginative compositions and tasteful and creative improvisations serve as an introduction to an exciting and innovative musician” - Hrayr Attarian, Allaboutjazz.com writer for Jazziz magazine and Chicago Jazz Magazine
Born into the lack of turbulence of the Toronto suburbs in 1980, Jamie’s life as an imaginative daydreamer, artist, creative voice and, eventually, an adventurous musician, composer and journeyman began. From the start, Jamie’s approach to music was tirelessly eclectic and his approach to life was daring and unconventional. While having not yet achieved wide recognition on his home continent of North America, Jamie made a living for 7 years performing jazz full time around the Far East in places as remote as Kathmandu and Siem Reap, as well as Bangkok, Shanghai, Koh Samui and many more.
Recently, Jamie returned to Canada to fully realize a body of work that he had assiduously composed and arranged over the past few years abroad. Armed with a folder of compositions, a couple of guitars and a Fender Twin Reverb amp, Jamie had made it his mission to find his place on Canada’s music scene. After a few short months, he had begun performing premiere jazz venues around Toronto and recorded an album of his works with several of Canada’s finest musicians, such as Steve Zsirai on Bass (David Usher, Jill Barber, Royal Wood, Shakura S’aida and many more),William Sperandei on Trumpet (Michael Kaeshammer, Harry Connick Jr., Colin James, Brandi Disterheft, many more), Dafydd Hughes on Keys (Feist, Esthero, Julie Crochetiere, Jacksoul, James McCollum, Christine Bougie, many more) and Ryan Granville-Martin on drums (Martin Tieli, Mia Sheard, and many more). The album reached number 2 on Canada`s National College Radio Charts as well as being played on several commercial stations. The album also aided in Jamie being awarded a prestigious composer’s grant from the Ontario Council for The Arts.
Jamie’s music draws from a wide array of influences. From Mingus and Myles to the likes of Bjork, Medeski Martin and Wood, Coldplay and Alicia Keys, Jamie takes in an array of modern and old music, and uses a range of ideas to develop an eclectic style that is distinctive, touching and grooves hard. He also attempts to achieve an element in his music that is organic and unique and would be difficult to trace back to other artists. Jamie digs deep as a composer and trusts his instincts.
Jamie’s travels as a performer began in 2002. He had formed an eclectic trio with top young players of the day, Steve Zsirai and Kevin Brow (both of whom have reached great heights as musicians in recent years). They had the chance to perform around Ontario, do a number of great gigs at Toronto venues and received enough interest from European promoters to go there for a tour through the UK, Holland and Belgium.
Jamie’s unconventional approach to composition and improvisation was echoed by an unconventional approach to life, as in 2003 he left his country to pursue music and adventure in the Far East. His journey began with a long residency at a renowned club in the northern hills of rural Thailand called “The Bebop.”Surrounded in every direction by over a hundred kilometers of farms, hills and rice fields, this town and club were an oasis of Western hippy culture. Every night a variety of the highest caliber Thai musicians, along with Westerners, would perform Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Funk and R & B for enthusiastic and diverse audiences. A couple of months quickly turned into two years as Jamie gained experience in a range of styles while practicing, learning, composing and taking in local culture in what was a fascinating and extremely fun period in his life.
Jamie soon moved to the Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai where he focused on Jazz and spent a year freelancing with a range of top Thai Jazz musicians. Opportunities soon began to arise for Jamie to do lucrative contracts performing duets with bassists and saxophone players at some of the highest level luxury hotels in Asia. Jamie also performed as a solo guitarist, forging a style that meshed Joe Pass/Lenny Breau solo guitar style concepts with more modern ideas and material. Jamie was in high demand for top level functions, performing for members of the Thai Royal Family, as well as Asian and Western Ambassadors and Captains of industry. As Jamie did this he also began building his reputation as a guitarist/composer by touring the continent’s clubs and festivals with his own bands, performing original material and working with several of Thailand’s top musicians.
This period culminated with Jamie spending more than a year based in Bangkok while embracing the opportunity to travel around the continent performing in Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia, and more. He also performed live and in studios around Bangkok as he became one of the most in demand guitarists in the region.
Over the next couple of years Jamie plans to continue the newest phase of his adventure as a touring musician based in Canada. Previews of his album have already been met with interest and praise. Plans are in the works for touring with his band and solo.
Full Review by Florence Wetzel, Allaboutjazz.com
Published: June 22, 2011
Guitarist Jamie Ruben's Groove-O-Ly-O-Scene is an absolute treat for the ears. There's something deliciously mellow and laidback about this music, and at the risk of using a word that brings terror to many jazz fans, it is wonderfully smooth.
Wait, don't stop reading! One dictionary defines "smooth" as "even and uninterrupted in flow or flight." That's exactly how this music rolls: it possesses a marvelously spacious ambience, woven through with fantastic grooves. In fact, "groove jazz" is the term Ruben uses for his music, and it's the best way to define this unique sound. Groove is king on the album, and it takes many forms: mellow, funky, exotic, cerebral, and mischievous.
Ruben has an unusual background, including a seven-year period living in Asia, where he made a living as a guitarist and composer. Ruben played over 2,000 gigs in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, and Cambodia, ranging from a long residency at a jazz club called The Bebop, in rural Thailand, to performing for members of the Thai Royal Family, Western ambassadors, and various luminaries at four-star hotels. He played with top-notch Thai jazz musicians as well as other Westerners, and along the way Ruben received a musical education that's certainly unique in today's jazz world.
Now back in his native Canada, Ruben is bringing to fruition the body of work he composed and arranged during his time in Asia. He has joined with an impressive group of Canadian musicians and put out the highly original Groove-O-Ly-O-Scene. There's something quite distinctive about this music that makes it wonderfully impossible to categorize. Surely it's due to Ruben's Eastern influences—the auditory and sensory impressions he imbibed during his travels most definitely inform the music—but it's also the way he effortlessly combines ambient music and groove with the toe-tapping swing of classic jazz.
The nine songs are all gems, but standouts include "Albino Bison," where bassist Steve Zsirai and drummer Ryan Granville-Martin lay down a lush groove, as Ruben bends his notes with exquisite care and trumpeter William Sperandei shines throughout, including a thoughtful, impressionistic solo. "Pennapa" is another memorable song, with an exotic groove and more shapely contours from Ruben's guitar. The dynamics are low-key and restrained, with lovely cymbal work by Granville-Martin. "Pai Crowd" has, perhaps, the most delectable groove on the CD—a funky, slightly wistful melody with a vibe so luscious it's palpable.
If your ears long for mellow sounds but your soul is afraid of smooth jazz stations, be at ease: Groove-O-Ly-O-Scene fills a void and opens up new possibilities. This is a special album, highly notable and well worth exploring.
Track Listing: AQ Giraffe; Albino Bison; Kwan-Teen; Pennapa; Bangkok 504; Lanta; Pai Crowd; Introducing Monsieur Slidey; Monsieur Slidey.
Personnel: Jamie Ruben: guitar; Steve Zsirai: bass; Ryan Granville-Martin: drums; William Sperandei: trumpet; Dafydd Hughes: keyboards (1, 7-9).