A Brief History:
The Ron McClure Quartet is made up of four mainstays on the New York scene. They have known and played with one another in various combinations for years. The group came together in 2000 when the Riverside Tennis Association invited McClure to play a series of gigs in Riverside Park on the banks of the Hudson River. Soon they were writing for one another and playing gigs in other New York City venues, including The Blue Note. Their 2002 release, ?MatchPoint?on Steeplechase Records has earned critical acclaim. ?The Age of Peace,? their second CD for Steeplechase is due out in late summer, 2003. They recently opened The Absolut 2003 Music Festival at NJPAC.
Short Bio?s of the Players:
Grammy nominated bassist and composer Ron McClure has played on over 100 CDs and has 17 releases as a leader. Fluent in any style; his resume looks like a ?Who?s Who of Jazz.?
Here?s a sample of that ?Who?s Who?: Starting out in 1961 at age 19 in the Wynton Kelly Trio with Wes Montgomery, Ron went on to play with Jack DeJohnette, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Getz, George Russell, Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughn, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwicke, and Joe Henderson, among others.
Bassist Ron McClure has thrived in bebop, free jazz, and fusion settings throughout his five decade long career. Known as one of the finest upper register players on both acoustic and electric bass, McClure is also widely known for his razor sharp sense of rhythm.
Until the group ?Quest? (Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach, Billy Hart) ended in 1990, McClure had always been in a regular working band. Ron formed The Ron McClure Quartet in 2000 with NYC stalwarts Jed Levy, Bob DeVos, and Jeff Brillinger. Ron writes, ?With Bob, Jed, and Jeff, I have peers to play with once again. We all have a wide variety of musical experiences and with Bob, Jed, and myself writing for the group, we explore many musical paths.? Their recent release ?MATCHPOINT? for Steeplechase has won critical acclaim.
Bob DeVos is a musically mature and versatile guitarist and composer, equally at home with rhythm and blues and straight-ahead jazz. Recently hailed as ?the thinking man?s guitar hero,? for his work on ?Groove ORGANization? with Gene Ludwig (Blues Leaf), Bob?s debut as a leader, ?Breaking the Ice? (Savant) with the great Charles Earland universally earned rave reviews. An active freelancer on the New York scene, Bob has played and recorded with Jimmy McGriff-Hank Crawford, Teo Macero?s Nonet, Richard ?Groove? Holmes and Sonny Stitt, Pepper Adams, Joey DeFrancesco, Eric Alexander and many others. His second CD for Blues Leaf, DeVos? Groove Guitar is just out. He performs often with Groove Organization: Gene Ludwig, Bob and Billy James.
Tenor player/composer Jed Levy?s warm sax playing has been featured on Steeplechase before; Ron plays on Levy?s ?Sleight of Hand? for that label. Jed?s ?Good People ? for Reservoir Music finds him working with Peter Leitch, Peter Madsden, Rufus Reid, and Billy Hart. Among those with whom Jed has performed and recorded are Jaki Bayard, Jack McDuff, Don Paterson, Cedar Walton and can also be currently heard as a member of the Cab Calloway Jazz Orchestra and with the Chico O?Farrill Latin Band.
Drummer Jeff Brillinger has toured and recorded with many jazz greats, including the Woody Herman Orchestra, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, Chris Connor, Tom Harell, Jack McDuff, appearing at major clubs and festivals in the US, Europe, and Japan.
?This swinging, laid-back date, Ron McClure’s tenth for Steeplechase, features the bassist with excellent players: tenor saxophonist Jed Levy, guitarist Bob DeVos, and drummer Jeff Brillinger. McClure and DeVos are the main writers, contributing four tunes each. Levy weighs in with the title track, providing a perky samba finale. The quartet also offers a snappy version of “Moonray,” a minor-key standard co-written by Artie Shaw. DeVos, who has worked mainly in organ trio settings, displays a fat tone and a fluid linear approach, particularly on McClure’s “Something New for You.” Levy’s blowing is enlivened by his highly imaginative rhythmic sense. McClure and Brillinger bring a tight yet flexible rapport to the session, peaking energetically on “Cellular Expansion.” McClure’s own solos are consistently strong; his downcast ballad, “The Day After Christmas,” is especially heartfelt.? – David R. Adler, Allaboutmusic.com
?These ten tunes receive a suitably glowing production, providing a luxurious bed for the teams? measured sophistication. A special rapport is obvious. Each players has a real sense of how their individual contribution sits with the group context. The compositional duties are mostly distributed between McClure and DeVos. McClure?s strings sing with tenderness, DeVos spread luminescent showers and Levy?s tenor is breathily poised, plump with emotion. What makes certain records leap out immediately? ?Just a damned pleasing disc to spin.?-Martin Longley, Jazz Magazine
JazzTimes, December, 2002:
Reviewed by Harvey Siders in the Bassology section of the December 2002 issue.
?Ron McClure’s Match Point? (Steeplechase) certainly goes somewhere, by combining contemporary and mainstream. That amalgam jumps right out of “Cellular Expansion,” mainly a showcase for drummer Jeff Brillinger, but it’s fascinating to hear McClure’s nonstop bass comments, from pedal points to double stops, behind the kit. McClure’s challenging head reveals excellent chemistry between tenor saxophonist Jed Levy and guitarist Bob DeVos. It’s DeVos who comes up with the trickiest bop line of all in his reworking of “Yesterdays” called “In Search of Times Lost.” He manages to obscure the cycle of fourths so effectively, I would never have guessed it was based on the Kern classic.
Some of McClure’s finest solo moments come in “Walter Davis,” a tribute to the late pianist by McClure. Taken at a relaxed groove, the tune allows McClure to show his melodic chops. Elsewhere, he does what a bassist should do (leader or not): he propels his colleagues to lay back and float down the mainstream, as on DeVos’ gentle “Shorter Story.” Here’s hoping this two-year-old combo stays together.?