The Russ Spiegel Jazz Orchestra ~ Transplants
Date: Saturday, June 06, 2009 @ 18:22:31 UTC

Artist: The Russ Spiegel Jazz Orchestra

CD: Transplants

Home: New York City

Style: Jazz

Quote: "If you are truly wise, you will transplant this disc from your favorite online CD store, directly into your music collection."

By Dan MacIntosh

The Russ Spiegel Jazz Orchestra is the brainchild of guitarist Russ Spiegel. This jazz CD’s title was inspired by Walt Whitman’s famous Leaves of Grass work. Whitman is quoted on the disc as follows: "Haply the brutish measureless human undergrowth I know, Transplanted there may rise to stature." Although it’s hard to know what these poetic words have to do with Spiegel’s brand of jazz, there's not doubt the man can sure play – and play well.

Spiegel wrote all but three of these songs. One of the covers, "The Very Thought of You," features Michael Camacho on vocals. Other covers include "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," which was partially written by Duke Ellington, and "I Should Care."

One of this CD’s best originals is titled "Kangaroo." And much like those crazy creatures from down under, it really jumps. There is plenty of great piano work on it, as well as notable flute and saxophone parts. "Chain Reaction" is another highlight due to its organ fills and funky feel. This one also includes a free-form roaming bass line. Camacho sings the song’s lyric, and the tune is nearly a dead ringer for Tower Of Power’s "What Is Hip," one of the greatest funk songs of all time.

Spiegel’s group shows off its quieter side with the opening sections of "Undertow." On it, with a rhythm that rolls like gentle ocean waves, a sweet horn part floats over it, while a mellow, acoustic bass line supports it.

Transplants is a fine collection, particularly because of its musical variety. Those that may think jazz is simply hipster, snap-along music may be pleasantly surprised by the many styles and sounds represented herein. "Undertow," with its solitude, couldn’t be any different from the uproarious "Chain Reaction," yet they both sit nicely, side-by-side on the same CD.

Another plus this disc has going for it is that it is a true jazz orchestra release. Although Spiegel is a guitarist, you never get the feeling this is a guitarist’s CD, merely with a bunch of other musicians playing second fiddle to him. Rather, he prominently features the many fine players in his group, which gives it a distinctly group effort feel. If you are truly wise, you will transplant this disc from your favorite online CD store, directly into your music collection.

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