Wayne's Music

If You Would Dance is an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable modern-jazz album from guitarist Wayne Brasel. The former U.S. resident who now makes his home in Norway, where he teaches guitar at the University of Stavanger, has brought together an all-star quartet for the album with Alan Pasqua piano, Peter Erskine drums, Tom Warrington bass and Satnam Ramgotra percussion. Featuring a high level of ensemble interaction, which one would expect from these veteran players, the group’s textural approach to improvisation is very enjoyable from both a technical and musical standpoint. Even listeners who aren’t familiar with the jazz genre can hear that these five guys are having fun and letting their creative juices flow throughout.

All of the tracks on the album were arranged by Brasel and eight of the nine were composed by the multi-talented guitarist, with the exception being “Oleo de Mujer con Sombrero” by Silvio Rodriguez. The compositions vary widely in their groove and melodic-harmonic content, a direct reflection of the diverse influences that Brasel has digested over the years. Tunes such as “Lightgiver” and the album’s title track portray a more relaxed, laid-back feel, while “The Oaks of Mamre” and “Celebration” feature a more intense vibe from the ensemble. Regardless of the tempo or groove of the song, Brasel’s compositions have an openness to them that makes each track feel personal. He definitely has his own approach to harmony and melodic development, and he lets it shine in his writing.

As a player Brasel displays his knowledge and reverence for the jazz tradition while injecting enough of his own personality to prevent imitation. This is exactly what one wants to hear from a modern jazz guitarist, that they’ve spent time absorbing the past and have the know how to reinterpret that knowledge and push the art form into the future. Yes, there are moments when Pat Metheny sneaks into his lines, but that could be said for every player out there from Brasel’s generation. What makes Brasel worth listening to is that he doesn’t let his influences absorb his lines and chords. He takes these sounds and reshapes them, breathes new life into the familiar, and comes out the other side with a sound all his own.

If You Would to Dance will be a welcomed addition to any jazz-guitar lover’s musical library. It is modern without being abrasive. It is classic without being imitative. It is a tip of the hat to the greats while looking firmly into the future. What else could one ask for in a jazz-guitar album?

"The California-bred guitarist Wayne Brasel , who is currently based in Norway, strikes a lyrical , Metheny-esque tone on this affecting project the stellar rhythm section of drummer Peter Erskine , pianist Alan Pasqua and bassist Tom Warrington". ..... "Brasel stakes out more personal territory on the moving title track, the introspective acoustic guitar feature “ The Hermit” and the poignant “ Oleo de Mujer con Sombrero “, all underscored by Erskine’s masterful restraint and coloristic touches on the kit."     

It's a good bet you've never heard of Wayne Brasel, an American guitarist now residing in Norway. So why should you now? His new album is one of the most beautiful recordings of the year. While his singing guitar style owes something to Pat Metheny (a compliment), his compositional style is all his own. Aside from one great cover (Silvio Rodriguez's "Oleo de Mujer con Sombrero") the songs are all his. Although the title tune is one of the most evocative, it's another song, "Celebration," that best defines the album --- a jaunty, breezy excursion from start to finish. His stellar group includes the great Peter Erskine on drums and percussion; Alan Pasqua, piano; Tom Warrington, bass; and Satnam Ramgotra, percussion. All of them provide excellent support, but Pasqua is especially noteworthy, supplying a constant stream of articulate solos. Don't be mislead by the album cover, which shows the feet of two dancers, circa 1950; this album has a spirit that is constantly moving forward.

The Wayne Brasel Quartet-If You Would Dance (Brajazz Records) Drummer Peter Erskine, is part of this quartet of veteran musicians. Each member’s contribution is so clear that everyone stands out as a star. Alan Pasqua on piano is a steadying force from beginning to end. We cynical city folks can almost forgive Brasel for recording a good album in Santa Monica. Almost. Truth be told, the warmth of the tones Brasel produces on guitar could only come from the dreamy West Coast.

Standout tracks: If You Would Dance, Aberdeen, Elias.

WAYNE BRASEL  QUARTET/If You Would Dance:  You gotta respect a guitarist that has a friendship with Peter Erskine that goes back to teen age years with Stan Kenton.  A very Wes influenced guitar date, this is Brasel’s own voice all the way through and it’s a clear voice that knows what it wants to say.  A great laid back date that isn’t easy, smooth or lite, this subtle set is right on the money through out.  Solid stuff deserving of your attention.

The Wayne Brasel Quartet  (four stars!)

If You Would Dance

BraJazz Records

On this significant recording, jazz guitarist Wayne Brasel sweeps

aside any hint of sentimentality on an evocative album of lovely,starry- eyed tunes played with a keen sense of swing thanks to a dream band—the superb drummer Peter Erskine, lyrical pianist Alan Pasqua and Tom Warrington on acoustic bass. Standout moments abound on this honest, gentle recording like the finger-popping “Celebration” that chugs along over Ersk- ine’s cymbal rides, the Brazilian tinged “Elias” (named for Erskine’s peer, pianist Eliane Elias) and “Oleo de Mujer con Sombrero,” set against a subtle background of percussion, sensitive brushes and with another fine solo from Pasqua. The nine tracks have a cinematic feel and rustic tunes like “Aberdeen” and “A Heart On Fire” sound as if they were composed for the twilight hour, that abbreviated space of time where the sun is setting in a western sky and the landscape is bathed in glowing hues of reds and yellows. 

If You Would Dance - The Wayne Brasel Quartet - (Brasjazz Records) - Guitarist Wayne Brasel must be quite a model citizen in his adopted home of Stavanger, Norway.  A native of Northern California, Brasel is now an associate professor of music and heads up the jazz guitar department at the University of Stavanger.  Brasel received, in his words, "generous financial support" from the Cultural Commision of Stavanger to create this program. His new CD features a smashing rhythm section of Tom Warrington (acoustic bass) and Peter Erskine (drums) plus the empathetic and sympathetic support of Alan Pasqua (piano) - percussionist Satnam Ramgotra appears on "The Hermit."  First thing one notices is how melodic the music is and how few hard edges the pieces have.  Brasel has a soft, round, tone on electric guitar, not unlike Pat Metheny, with a little country twang now and then (especially on the title track.) This is music to cuddle up with, to let wash over you, whether it's the gentle hard-bop of "Celebration" or the folky exploration of "The Hermit", with the tabla beneath the acoustic guitar and Pasqua's open chords.  The one non-original, "Oleo de Mujer con Sombrero" composed by Silvio Rodriguez of Cuba, is a lovely melody rising gently over Erskine's ever-so-quiet brush work.  It's as if time does stand still during both the piano and acoustic guitar solos. "A Heart on Fire" displays the fine interplay of the drums with the soloists as well as bassist Warrington's bouyant bottom lines and occasional counterpoint.  

Wayne Brasel's music on "If You Would Dance" is the perfect antidote for times of trouble or sadness. The music offers no answers to hardships but gives musical succor when one needs to take things slowly.  Well-played, smartly arranged and heartfelt music, take your time and surrender to these sweet sounds.  

"Lightgiver" is the opening track and its soft texture sets the stage for the rest of the program while the following "The Oaks of Mamre" takes flight propelled by the guitarist's floating lines gliding on Erskine's splashes and the pianist's firm phrasings. A simple disc of warm and gentle music more appropriate for a slow dance than swing, If You Would Dance is food for the soul served by a master chef, guitarist Wayne Brasel.


Vakkert fra vest  

Gitaristen Wayne Brasel trives på vestkysten – det være seg i USA eller Norge.

 Wayne Brasel er født og oppvokst i California og har etter en del omveier endt opp som lærer på jazzlinja ved Universitet i Stavanger. Nå aner jeg ingenting om Brasels evner som pedagog, men er de i nærheten av hans kvaliteter som gitarist så har siddisene skaffa seg en kapasitet av meget høy klasse.

Brasel er en musikant som har henta inspirasjon fra kilder som funk, rock, soul, blues og ikke minst jazz. Han har jobba med en rekke navngjetne musikere som John Patitucci og det er i et musikalsk landskap basert på vakre, melodiske utgangpunkt – ikke ulikt Patitucci – vi treffer Brasel på «If You Would Dance».

I august i fjor tok Brasel turen «hjem» til California og med et knippe låter i bagasjen tok han kontakt med gamle kjente som supertrommeslager Peter Erskine, pianisten Alan Pasqua og bassisten Tom Warrington pluss perkusjonisten Satnam Ramgotra som ekstra krydder av og til.

Wayne Brasel bør på ingen måte skjemmes over at han er tungt inspirert av Pat Metheny både som komponist og gitarist. Sounden i gitaren kan også minne en hel del om Metheny, også han med røtter ikke så langt fra Stavanger, nærmere bestemt Mandal, men Brasel er så absolutt utstyrt med masse personlighet og originalitet. Den eneste låta han ikke har skrevet sjøl er «Oleo de Mujer con Sombrero» skapt av den cubanske legenden Silvio Rodriguez og tolka av Brasel på akustisk gitar – nydelig det også.

«If You Would Dance» er spilt inn i løpet av én dag og det forteller det meste om hvilke kapasiteter Brasel har tatt med seg i studio. Alle leverer varene så det holder, men nok en gang framstår Peter Erskine som den toppmusikanten han er – hvilken smakfull trommeslager!

«If You Would Dance” og Wayne Brasel har vært en usedvanlig hyggelig og vakker overraskelse. Måtte andre deler av landet enn Rogaland få glede av Wayne Brasel også.

 

There are some notable jazz recordings that have just been released for your listening pleasure. Among them is “If You Would Dance “ by the Wayne Brasel Quartet. Mellow is one way to describe the tracks on “If You Would Dance” but I must say that they are also exciting with a wonderful fresh feel. The Wayne Brasel Quartet has produced an album of innovations. Wayne Brasel is a multitalented guitarist / composer. His style infuses jazz , blues , rock and soul to create the best.

BRAZJAZZ RECORDS - The biggest names in guitar jazz over the past four decades—Metheny, Scofield, Benson—may owe a lot to the masters of earlier decades, yet they continue to pave new roads for music fans and guitarists alike. One such artist bringing the jazz guitar traditions of the past into the future is Wayne Brasel. A masterful jazz guitarist and composer, Brasel hits his stride with the 2010 CD release of If You Would Dance, recorded by The Wayne Brasel Quartet and released on the Brazjazz label. Latest news is that Wayne is currently an associate professor and head of the jazz guitar department at the University of Stavenger in Norway. Recorded in Santa Monica during the summer of 2009, If You Would Dance is a completely solid instrumental guitar based album that further establishes Brasel as a real contender in the jazz guitar world. Throughout the nine track CD, Brasel gets solid support from his quartet, but clearly the accent here in on the guitarist’s impeccable guitar skills. www.WayneBrasel.com