Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nils Rurack - Slightly Off Center

Nils Rurack - Slightly Off Center
Independent Spotlight

I was first introduced to Nils when I heard him collaborate with two other friends of mine from Broadjam, Peter Olach (JACK the Blues) and Morgen La Civita.  He struck me as a very talented lead guitarist and composer.  I heard some great blues and hard rocking leads out of Nils that were very powerful, but there was this underlying genre trying to peek out from behind the rock roots.  

Recently, Nils tagged me in a post on Facebook asking me to review his latest effort.  A collection of Jazz and Jazz Fusion instrumentals that he had recorded recently and over the years.  If anyone knows me, I love to review music from people who love to make music.  So I waited for the appropriate time to listen and when I could give full focus to the material.  And while listening to this album, I finally figured out what genre was peeking from his other tracks.  This is where I heard the true beauty of Nils' talent shine through and I can't recommend this collection highly enough.  I know that he is planning to release this album as a release soon, so I will update information on here at the time of that release, as to where you can purchase this CD/MP3 collection when it comes out.

I have been a huge fan of the band Gamalon for years.  Especially their release entitled "Ariel View" which I have written about on this blog.  Another favorite Jazz fusion album from my past is Rob Mullins "One Night In Houston", especially the song "Polka Dot Dress".  What I hear in this album from Nils is both of these fusion powerhouses.  I've listened to plenty of jazz and jazz fusion since the 90s, but nothing has sparked my love of the genre since these two albums, like this album from Nils has.  The skill of playing, the great compositions of the songs, the power behind each track, is just incredible.  Can you tell I loved this?

Below is my track by track review of the album.  

World of Phreaks - What a great feel this track has.  Brilliant fusion.  Very original and driving.  Great opening track.  Strong and vibrant.

Al Dente - I'm digging the clean and sustained lead.  I always love songs that have a composition like they are climbing to a peak of a mountain.  Scaling...pardon the pun.  Great track.  I love how Nils' ends this song.

JC - This song features the excellent saxophonist Dave Frank.  The keys are awesome.  The song is nicely constructed.  I'm definitely hearing flavoring of Rob Mullins in here.  I hear some Steely Dan and Larry Carlton too, and that's a good thing.  I love the heavy lead guitar toward the end.  A kick ass song!

Rhodes Rage - This one flows in an extremely funky way.  I really dig the Rhodes.  Strong snare driving the beat and just another great track.  I love how Nils pieces together the phrasings in his songs.  One section leads to another and each flows in its distinctive Jazz mix.  This takes me back to 70s Jazz/Funk/Fusion.

Eleven - This kicks some major ass all the way through.  Pure and simple.  One of my favorite songs on this album.  No other words here, except, just listen and enjoy.

Fishies - I love this track. Very smooth intro with the drums kicking a nice groove.  This one definitely takes me some place outdoors, cruising along a beach highway, convertible top down, sun setting in the distance... yeah, I need a glass of wine with this one.  The mix is perfect and the tonal quality of the guitars is excellent.

Funky Farm - Again, Dave Frank is kicking my ass with that sax.  Nice runs together with the guitar.  This song kicks ass! :)  There are some seriously powerful moments in this song.  Another favorite track on this album.  

Wok - Nice drive back to a groove.  I love the way this goes back and forth between driving guitar and softer jazz guitar.  This also has become a favorite track.  I had to listen to this 4 times before I moved on to the next one. 

October Day - This is a great title for this track.  It takes me to an October day.  Fall colors, leaves falling, winds picking up, temperatures changing, darker days, it captures it nicely.  I love where this goes.

It's All Wrong - No, its all right. This guitar sings, no, really, it does.  Nice breaks between the sections, and nice tie-backs with the drum breaks. Loving the wah/tremelo on the backing guitar.  The lead not only sings, it walks and talks.

247365 - I like this song.  Strong opening.  I love the switch-up and then to the bass break.  Great chicken strut (Jagger style) at the halfway point.   

I think this is some of the best Jazz I've heard in years and I've listened to a lot of stuff in the last 20 years.  

Update 2-23-2014: 
The album is now available for purchase and download from CDBaby:  Here is the link to this great album. Please go and buy this, and support independent artists who work very hard at releasing their material, like Nils has.  You can also purchase his latest release "Thrillseeker" at CDBaby as well.  Another stellar album that deserves a review from me soon.

 "Slightly Off Center" (CDBaby)

"Thrillseeker" (CDBaby)