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Bruce Jackson: Press

Bruce Jackson is yet another of a growing number of Jazz musicians releasing their material on their own on CD without the help of the majors. I wondered if this was a sign that the major labels are too busy with other things to allow Jazz to thrive where it should. The number of fine indie releases we have covered since the site went up makes us all here wonder if that at least has some validity. Don’t Sleep In Your Dreams joins that list.

The sometimes-offbeat choices show a longtime love of the genre, along with brisk-but-precise musicianship.
A trio setting brings forth some solid sounds from three talented musicians. "Rhythm-A Ning" Monk's tune is performed at racehorse tempo and Bob
Himmelberger's piano solo is nothing short of brilliant as he races across the keyboard with speed to burn but never losing the changes. The time is perfect by the bass and drums. "Paris Eyes" BeBop rules the day in this fine offering. Again the Himmelberger solo is the hallmark as he gracefully adds an emphatic exclamation mark to matters. Some interesting 8 bar exchanges between the piano and drums. "My Ship" is not only a lovely ballad with an exquisite melody, it is further enhanced by the sensitive piano message of Himmelberger and Jackson's unobtrusive brush work. This is a very listenable album with an ensemble that carries the day
beautifully.
5 Stars
I’ll admit it I’m a sucker for good acoustic jazz. But even a great fan of the art like me was staggered and shook when I first heard Bruce Jackson’s “Don’t Sleep On Your Dreams”. Bubbly bass that’s deep and warm. Nice percussion that’s light yet fulfilling. And some of the most incredible piano play you’ll ever be treated to. Great time signatures that are strong and rich. Bruce Jackson, as a fellow drummer, my hat’s off to you—you’re damn good.
Jackson's drumming on “Footprints” is intricate and assertive, buoying up the grey hues; on “Iris/Pee Wee,” he goes with a subtle approach, laying out soft colors and delicate textures behind pianist Bob Himmelberger's pensive sparkle and bassist Nicolas Bayak's deep, dark lines. On Larry Young's “Paris Eyes,” the trio swings bright and straightahead. Jackson summons a deft and propulsive whisper from the cymbals, interspersed with some good old-fashioned rollicking on the rest of the drum set. What makes the recording such a compelling listen is the switch from the modern-edged Shorter tunes to a more mainstream traditional approach on classics like “Never Let Me Go.” A gorgeous take on the Weill/Gershwin classic “My Ship” closes the set with a lovely melody, Jackson's hushed brushwork sighing in the background and pianist Himmelberger playing with a very pretty and relaxed precision. A perfect ending to a fine piano trio set.
This cd starts out really well and stays there. The performances are of the highest quality, the interplay flawless and there is a very pleasing contrast from one tune to the next - like someone really thought about the playing order. For a cd by a drummer leader the drums remain consistently well balanced and very tasteful. All perfomers impress me as being of the highest caliber. Engineering is excellent as well Highly recommended
“Never… never give up.” This phrase from Winston Churchill appears to be the device of Bruce Jackson, a generous drummer. Jackson seems to know that it’s always great to listen to an album in which you can get to the jazz standards you love even more.
Bruce Jackson’s release is definitely the essential CD to have if one wants to build a jazz music library.
Don’t Sleep on Your Dreams, the latest from drummer/bandleader Bruce Jackson is trio jazz that swings in a most traditional sense. At times relaxed and bouncy; at others inspired and burnin’, Jackson and his sidemen pianist Bob Himmelberger and bassist Nicolas Bayak are receptive and responsive to each other’s individual musicality. These musicians take the art of the jazz trio to familiar territory…and add unique twists and turns. The disc is strong throughout, with a good selection of tunes and excellent arrangements that also display unique musical characteristics. The first of these unique arrangements is of Wayne Shorter’s neo-standard “Footprints”. This very common and perhaps over-recorded classic is given new life with a fresh arrangement set in 4/4 meter. The manipulation of time signature takes the tune from a waltz to a more relaxed “Equinox”-ish vibe. Shorter’s compositions are represented both here and on a medley of his tune “Iris” and Tony Williams’ “Pee Wee”. Shorter’s tune originally appeared on Miles Davis’ E.S.P.; Williams’ on Sorcerer. The medley is in a relaxed waltz tempo. Jackson plays superb brushes, with fine solos from Himmelberger and Bayak. Thelonious Monk is also represented. The trio performs Monk’s famous “Rhythm changes” tune, “Rhythm-A-Ning”. The tempo is up and the trio smokes. Jackson plays particularly nicely on this track, both during his rendering of the “melody” and a drum solo over the form of the tune. Organist Larry Young’s “Paris Eyes” is a medium-up swing tune. Following piano and bass solos, Himmelberger and Jackson trade 8s. Both musicians excel at improvising short, tasty solos. The drummer and pianist again trade on Dave Liebman’s “Picadilly Lilly”. The tempo is a bit slower and the form is more complex (8-8- 12—8). The trading is done in sections (with Jackson always taking the extra four of the bridge). The transitions are smooth despite the unorthodox form. “Firewater” features the band in its relaxed and laid back mode. Jackson plays light and bouncy brushes throughout and takes an interesting solo. On the ballad side of things are “My Ship”, with an easy Latin feel and “Never Let Me Go”, in a more straight ahead ballad feel. Jackson plays sticks—an unusual choice, but one that works well for him and the trio. Don’t Sleep on Your Dreams s definitely a CD worth getting. An unorthodox and interesting player and bandleader, Jackson’s choices are consistently fresh and unique. Whether it’s the choice to play a waltz in 4/4, to play a ballad with sticks or to take an extended “chops based” solo with brushes, Jackson frequently takes the path least expected. This goes a long way toward producing a compelling CD, which Jackson certainly has. Jazz purists will appreciate the traditional sound and approach. Those with more modern leanings will be drawn in by Jackson’s unexpected choices and interesting decisions. One thing’s for sure: no one is sleeping while this captivating CD is playing.
Dave Miele - Jazz Improv NY
Jackson’s drum work is the final ingredient to this combo that is able to swing fiercely when required, but that also has a great way with a ballad. Case in point: the group’s take on the standard “Never Let Me Go,” on which Himmelberger sets the stage and takes a pretty solo. Bayak’s solo is also impressive, and Jackson provides subtle shading with an array of cymbal work, saving his snare for really important punctuation. The group does really well with the Shorter tunes, which include the opening track, “Footprints.” Although Himmelberger uses blocks of modal chords, he ends up sounding much more impressionistic than the earthy playing one might here from, say, McCoy Tyner on this type of tune. His solo brings in a lot of blues feeling, and moves strongly until Himmelberger hands the solo chair over to Bayak, whose tone is deep and resonant, and who solos with both an elastic feel for rhythm and a flair for improvising melodic lines that many soloists don’t have. The other Shorter tune is “Iris,” paired here with the Tony Williams composition “Pee Wee,” and here Jackson takes a delicate approach, utilizing brushes to allow himself to be both subtle and heard. The group swings easily, and probably sounds most like the famous Evans trio on Buster Williams’ “Firewater,” which again finds Jackson using brushes, this time with a crisper, more percussive attack. Larry Young’s “Paris Eyes” is more of a hard bop swinger, and Jackson shows himself adept at keeping things moving along on this more uptempo number. Also noteworthy is the whimsical Dave Liebman composition “Picadilly Lilly,” which serves as a nice showcase for Himmelberger. Monk’s “Rhythm-A-ning” is taken at a fast tempo, and the group makes no attempt to sound particularly ‘Monkish’ –a wise choice, as these players have many strengths of their own to rely on. Don’t Sleep On Your Dreams is a beautiful trio recording, and anyone who enjoys a straight ahead yet inventive jazz group will find a lot to like on this CD. It’s a keeper, and so is the Bruce Jackson trio.
It's refreshing when a musician who has spent
dues-paying years in the shadows, closer to
anonymity than fame, makes the most out of the
chance to stand front and center. It was clear that
drummer Bruce Jackson loved being on the bandstand
when he performed at the Jazz Gallery recently. His
trio treated the audience to tunes from Don't Sleep On
Your Dreams, a debut album with tunes culled from a
cross-section of timeless composers.
Jackson's approach is to maintain the songs'
original texture while providing just enough
variations to give them new angles. Wayne Shorter's
“Footprints”, for example, is played at a slightly
slower tempo, which allows the trio to linger at the
song's subtle edges. When Jackson, pianist Bob
Himmelberger and bassist Nicolas Bayak performed
this song live their sound and cohesion recalled
Coltrane's rhythm section. Himmelberger is a gifted
and daring pianist who can play with arresting
dexterity (“Rhythm-A-Ning”) or imbue the simplest
chords with the deepest emotion (“Iris”/”Pee Wee”).
The trio's rendition of the Weill/Gershwin chestnut
“My Ship” is as lovely a ballad as can be heard
anywhere, with Jackson's brushstrokes and Bayak's
plucking giving Himmelberger a firm foundation to
tell the story.
Sometimes a listener doesn't want jazz that tries
too hard to be innovative or to make a point.
Something as elemental as a rhythm section will
suffice. With a fine selection of songs and some
kick-ass players to execute them, Don’t Sleep on Your
Dreams is a welcome emergence from the shadows.
Terrell Holmes - All About Jazz New York