Selected Press Quotes & Reviews
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Selected press/reviews/educational comments for Paster, Ryan & Hall and Skyline:
"Piano trio efforts fall flat or fly on mostly nebulous, difficult-to-define aspects of the sound: collective energy, group cohesion, and an ability to get "inside" the music. The classic trios include those led by Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson--to name just a few. To name some contemporary guys who fly, you'd have to mention Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau's groups in the higher profile end of the spectrum; and then there's the lesser-known but no less compelling Randy Halberstadt Trio (Parallel Tracks, Origin Records, '04). All of these trios--and a bunch still unmentioned--fly. And so do Bennett Paster, Gregory Ryan, and Keith Hall, on Skyline.
The trio opens up with a lighthearted, swinging gem, "Jabali," written by pianist Bennett Paster for drummer Jabali Billy Hart. The tune features Paster's loose and ebullient keyboard work over a solid groove. "Her Lullaby," penned by drummer Keith Hall, has a bounce in its step, a bit bright and uptempo for the purpose of lulling her to sleep perhaps, but a joyous sound over an elastic groove.
Part of the appeal throughout is Paster's willingness, within a mainstream framework, to take chances. He and the trio sound relaxed, optimistic, vivacious, and Paster's hands have an infectious percussive exuberance.
Bassist Gregory Ryan's "Better," as well as the title tune--also by Ryan--slow the pace to an introspective mode, both of them lovely ballads. The group also gets inside Coltrane's "Naima," Oliver Nelson's "Yearnin'," and (perhaps the highlight) Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time," giving the melody an engaging buoyancy.
A beautifully melodic effort, start to finish."
- Dan McClenaghan, AllAboutJazz.com
"[Bennett Paster's trio CD Skyline] with bassist Gregory Ryan and drummer Keith Hall features straight-ahead jazz - songs by all three members and a few standards- played with sparkle and originality."
- Paul Weideman, The Santa Fe New Mexican, April 28, 2005
"Let the sidemen have their say. These rising players have collectively amassed an impressive list of credits behind jazz notables. But one thing is clear: They've definitely found their musical soul mates in each other. On their own indie release, pianist Paster, bassist Ryan and drummer Keith Hall radiate warmth, vitality, robust melodicism, and an effortless swing. All three contribute strong writing, and Paster's ballad, "If I Said Goodbye," is a gem. With a nimble, grooving, 'melodic' touch, Hall knows how to tell a story. Elegant. 4 1/2 stars (out of 5)"
- Jeff Potter, Modern Drummer, September 2005
"...solid, full of enthusiasm and communication."
"["Skyline"] paints vistas which are tied together by a repeating
bass motif. It tells a story and kept my interest throughout its nine
- Cadence Magazine, September 2005
"it's really refreshing to have a master class where the musicians are
so into helping younger players learn."
- Student at a Western Michigan University masterclass given by Paster, Ryan & Hall, January 2005
"The kids really loved the performance you gave, and the response they
had was a very genuine and heartfelt reaction to something that was of
terrific quality and depth. Your wonderful playing was equaled by the
graciousness that you and your trio showed, and the kids and teachers
were captivated. Truly, it was marvelous."
- John Truitt, Director of the Music Department at Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM, regarding a high school master class taught by Paster, Ryan & Hall, April 2005
Critical Praise for the Bennett Paster & Gregory Ryan’s CD Grupo Yanqui:
“If it were somehow possible to bottle or otherwise channel the energy of this group and use it to generate electricity, the country would hardly ever need to worry about power outages. An exaggeration perhaps, but still an apt description of the heat this group generates with just five players performing at any one time...[T]here are elaborate rhythms and harmonies that take time to unfold and which are played at a tempo allowing the listener to get the full impact of each melody's maturation process...This album will do very well and is recommended.”
- Dave Nathan, AllAboutJazz.com, February 2002
"Highly creative and complex
original music... Involved arrangements, passionate solos, and
vigorous, spontaneous interplay, all with a melodic and cosmopolitan
Latin funk touch. Highly recommended.” (4 stars out of a possible 5)
- David R. Adler, All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com, December 2001
"Somehow these young New York guys seem to never let you down. On Grupo
Yanqui (are they the anti-Grupo Mets?) leaders Bennett Paster and
Gregory Ryan showcase their hip, cerebral, groovy originals and two
standards in a series of fine and energetic performances. Ryan's
"Miller Time" is a hard Latin Funk groove with an interesting and
intelligent line and neat solos all around. Paster's "Mona Se Queda" is
a tight Wayne Shorter-ish thing with a really hip minor chord sequence,
and the band really takes this one somewhere - into a controlled frenzy
in the solos before returning to the subtle line before freaking out
again at the end. It's into the cabaret or ballroom of your choice for
"How Are Things In Gloccamora?", as the fellas cha-cha this one up
quite nicely. Paster's "Fantasy" is a showcase for his understanding of
harmony, dynamics and tension and resolution and how they relate to
composition. Very well done, as is this entirely refreshing recording.
The group shows their sense of humor on the Bebo Valdes closer "Cactus
- Jim Josselyn, AllAboutJazz.com, January 2002
"Although a North American production, the recording has all the savory
taste of the islands and the Southern Hemisphere. This band regularly
heats up the temperature and lays down a bountiful dose of syncopated
vibrations. It is a solid offering."
- Frank Rubolino, Cadence Magazine, April 2002
"Grupo Yanqui is headed by the young New Yorkers Bennett Paster and
Gregory Ryan. They play a brand of jazz that is very much in your head.
It is erudite and inventive and very, very listenable. These fine young
musicians are intent on producing a hip brand of Latin Jazz drawn
through the high polish of an Anglo prism. Saxophonists [Yosvany] Terry Cabrera
and Chris Cheek carry the band from one song to the next, hoisted by
Paster's full-fisted piano. Latin percussion is evident everywhere,
providing the music with a salsa shiver. Grupo Yanqui is a fine start.
It is about time this group be heard by a label."
- C. Michael Bailey, AllAboutJazz.com, May 2002
Selected other press/reviews:
"...the pianist Matthew Fries, the bassist Gregory Ryan, the drummer Keith Hall - play muscular, straight-ahead jazz"
- Stephen Holden, The New York Times, January 17, 2003
"a remarkable trio"
- John Hoglund, Backstage, January 2003
"...a joyful, sophisticated mix of jazz, rock and blues that reaches
farther in its roots than any easy-to-peg genre and stretches more
horizons than any frat house."
- Rex Reed, New York Observer, February 10, 2003
"[Stigers] sounded far more inspired when indulging his taste for
exuberant or slightly off-center jazz with the help of pianist Matthew
Fries, bassist Greg Ryan and drummer Keith Hall."
- Mike Joyce, The Washington Post, November 21, 2002
"Matthew Fries - Song For Today 4+/4+O's Notes: Matt is one of the finest young pianists on the jazz scene today. His quintet does a fine job of playing his compositions, especially bassist Gregory Ryan. The 10 bop tunes are relaxed in a mature way, almost disguising the explosive dynamics of Fries. This is most notable on "Phineas." There is a lot to enjoy here."
- D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter