It’s not often that I come across private press records in the field. Some diggers have better luck. Maybe it’s geographic location, proximity to a birthplace of a genre, or just being in the right place at the right time for the digging gods to be aligned to get a private press. I guess I was just lucky this day when I picked up Ruther Presents Quartescence on Van-Los Records.
These four members of the George Shearing Quintet flipped the script and made a record without the leader, something the Modern Jazz Quartet did (when they left Dizzie Gillespie) with much success. Quartescence consisted of Warren Chiasson on vibes, Isham Russell “Rusty” Jones II on drums and percussion, Ron Anthony on guitar, and Andrew Simpkins on bass. Chiasson, the clear leader, played with Roland Hanna, and Art Blakey. He was born in Sydney Nova Scotia and was a well respected vibes player. Simpkins was a journeyman bassist, recording for Blue Note, Verve, Mercury and Limelight. He played with great such as Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, and a long list of other notables. Jones played with musicians such as Leo Konity and the Judy Roberts Trio. Ron Anthony, was an accomplished guitar player,
“ I discovered that recording these four instruments is not considered and engineer’s holiday, espeecially in exposing the individual talents of each of these musicians. That is what this album is all about. ”- Wyath Ruther, bassist and colleague
song writer, vocalist, arranger, and composer had worked with the likes of Henry Mancini and Peter Nero. The common bond here with these musicians, besides their success in their own right, was the George Shearing Quintet. However, on this recording, they left the star of the show at home and decided to shine themselves.
“Bossa Nova Scotia”, a tune written by Chiasson, pays an homage to his birth place through the use of Brazilian Bossa Nova and Latin rhythms. It’s an almost five minute work out of upbeat, vibraphone madness. As Jones keeps the beat up, Anthony’s smooth guitar playing and Simpkins bass lines allow Chiasson to step it up on the vibes. Think of it as a tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto via Canada. It may be cold up there, but Quartescence had no problem heating up this track and transporting the listener to a warm climate with some Bossa Nova and Samba beats making it even hotter. The Lp all the way through is a smooth, solid ride. A 13 minute cover of the Carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays” is included. They even manage to make that sound hip. All in all, a pretty decent private press Jazz record. Not bad for a buck, and not bad for a band without their leader.
Listen to Quartescence – Bossa Nova Scotia from the Van Los Records S/T Lp.