The critically acclaimed vibraphonist Rusty Burge joined The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra on March 6, 2021 at 7:00 pm for an unforgettable performance. livestreamed from the BOP STOP. The evening showcased the all-star rhythm section from the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra including Jim Rupp on drums, Aidan Plank on bass, and Jackie Warren on piano.
A professor at the Cincinnati College and Conservatory of Music, and an active member of Percussion Group Cincinnati, Burge was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2017. He has travelled the world to make concerto appearances with more than twenty different symphony orchestras.
The evening began with a standard, “This I Dig of You” by Hank Mobley. First released on Mobley’s pivotal 1960 hit record, Soul Station, this up-tempo swing chart made a solid opener. The musicians took smooth turns to pass around the solo improv moments, induced by subtle nods and hand motions to signify who would take the lead in the next section. Warren, a classically trained jazz pianist and an Oberlin alum, was astonishing in the quick and articulate runs that fueled her powerful and flawless technique.
Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Like Someone In Love” filled the venue with an agreeable melodic line over a complex set of chord changes. This was a shining moment for Plank’s bass line chops, allowing the music to flow with energy and vitality. Burge soared effortlessly with his beautiful and sensitive touch on the vibraphone, creating a comfortable listening experience.
“When I Grow Too Old to Dream” by Sigmund Romberg opened with a vibraphone solo. Here, Burge controlled the mallets with a variety of techniques producing a wide palette of texture and color. Joining his colleagues, the ensemble brought back an upbeat and mood-boosting tempo to the stage.
Burge and the Trio exchanged laughs and waving gestures to show their appreciation and compliments for each other. The tight knit connection between the players and the keen awareness of each other’s personalities elevated their music to the next level.
After Aidan Plank’s original, Hard Times and Kurt Weill’s Speak low, the evening closed with Charlie Parker’s Steeplechase. The tune’s bebop style focused attention on the intricate notes and grooves of each solo instrument.
Burge, a phenomenal musician and collaborator, both shocked and satisfied with his fast and flashy technique, along with his soulful and touching soft moments.
This is artistry that every musician strives for. The lively and enthusiastic Cleveland Jazz Orchestra Trio is a group you can rely on for spontaneous improv and pure enjoyment. It was a night to remember, leaving you wanting to hear more of Rusty Burge’s sweet melodies, as well as the unique musicianship of each member of the Trio.