All About Jazz says Jan Sturiale mixes “the tradition of creative jazz language with the spirit of rock music and a classical background”. There’s more than the spirit of rock here, e.g., in the 70s-style riffing that forms part of the theme of The E Song. Nothing wrong with that, but Sturiale doesn’t lay on it too long. The rock strut is only part of a pleasingly varied menu.
Straight after the theme comes a lyrical, rubato opening to the leader’s solo before the groove comes back into focus; why wouldn’t any composer (all this stuff is Sturiale’s) want to use the full musical palette like this to keep his listeners interested? (In the face of so much monochrome contemporary music, “beats me” is the answer.) This is fully composed music, rich in formal variation and harmonic incident, well worked on. Sturiale’s melodies have a songlike strength too, easily engaged and followed. And then there is the blues: Mercy Street is an Americanastyle lament over a nicely couched light rock pulse – think perhaps Marc Johnson’s old band Bass Desires – rich in brooding figures and drawing substantial responses from guitar and Rhodes. Blessed Relief is a robust swinger on which a bustling Pukl may remind you of Chris Potter. Guitar-wise, Sturiale is rather distinctive – not an easy task in a world that’s long been replete with guitarists. There are one or two Methenian phrases and the soft, lyrical tone reinforces the impression. It’s clean with no edge of distortion apparent, sounding processed in a way that suggests chorusing, compression and delay – not new guitar flavours, yet Sturiale has moulded something clearly personal out of them. His improvising vocabulary draws on familiar influences too, but the combination, together with that tone, results in something distinctly individual.
Year Released: 2017