Release Date: 2005-09-01
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Nick Russo’s album, “ro”, is an eclectic mix of straight-ahead swing, Indian Raga, modern jazz and free playing. The group, “Nick Russo + 11”, features Nick Russo with various combinations of eleven great musicians: Mark Turner, Miles Griffith, Samir Chatterjee, Ari Hoenig, Willard Dyson, David Pleasant, Art Hirahara, Bryan Murray, Greg Glassman, Matt Clohesy and Nathan Peck.

Album Review

With varied tastes in the field of modern jazz, guitarist Nick Russo covers a wide range. He loves to interject sensual themes into his work, portraying a romantic vision as well as a consonant landscape that both rest on pleasurable experiences. They're Russo's compositions, and they represent deep feelings.

Miles Griffith sings on three selections, providing unique wordless passages as well as original lyrics. He makes a suitable musical partner for Russo, since they share an appreciation for smooth scenery and spontaneity. Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, who sits in on four selections, provides a matching tone that glows eloquently. Pianist Art Hirahara provides a stable foundation for the guitarist, while several guests give the album a unique quality.

"Mitzvah" includes lyrics that run in unison with tenor saxophone. Along with tabla and a standard rhythm section, Griffith jumps out with an outstanding vocal tirade. Emotions fly in all directions, giving the piece an evocative, thrilling luster.

Russo serves as the session's glue, holding its varied elements together with his expressive guitar. For the most part, he enjoys a warm composure that allows him to interpret melodies in a casual and laid-back fashion. Russo keeps his soloing simple enough, preferring to emphasize melody over technique. Thus, his second recording session as leader brings plenty of variety into the arena from his sidemen and guests, while allowing him to lead with a conservative formula.

“If your tastes are eclectic, you’ll probably enjoy Ro…. There’s a bit of free playing, some Indian raga and a healthy measure of straight-ahead swing… This youthful vet has already played and/or recorded with Jimmy McGriff, Eddie Henderson, Ed Schuller, Teddy Charles, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, and the Frank & Joe Show.”
- Hothouse

“… his approach to improvisation, featuring for the most part a warm Jim Hall-like tone, is flexible enough to feel credible whatever the context. It’s no surprise that the likes of Hall, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, and pianist Dave Kikoski all speak highly of him. …Nick Russo is clearly a guitarist worth watching.”
- Kelman, All About Jazz


“[Nick Russo] gets most inventive when building from disparate materials, especially on “Little Hands,” whose Indian flavor proves hospitable to Russo’s banjo, and “Please Come Home.”
- Robert Doerschzk, Down Beat

“A fluid staightahead player with a globalist outlook.,, For a guy with a book of Metalilca transcriptions under his belt, Nick Russo of Queens cultivates a wonderfully pure jazz tone…”
- David Adler, Jazz Times

“Nick Russo’s Ro is not an easy listen, but it sure is rewarding once you’re able to digest it… [His] tone is very near perfect – big and bold, but still subtle… very full in the line of players like Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, and Tal Farlow… It’ll be fun to see where Russo goes next. There are many interesting jazz guys out there these days, and he’s on the front line.”
- Jim Hilmar, Vintage Guitar

“Nick Russo is finally strumming his stuff for the larger arena of jazz fandom. It’s been worth the wait; his impressive debut recording is broad in scope, deep in concept and eminently listenable, giving evidence that the dues are paid up – and earning interest.”
- Tom Greenland, All About Jazz - New York

“With varied tastes in the field of modern jazz, guitarist Nick Russo covers a wide range. He loves to interject sensual themes into his work, portraying a romantic vision as well as a consonant landscape that both rest on pleasurable experiences. They’re Russo’s compositions, and they represent deep feelings.”
- Jim Santella, All About Jazz

On Line Review

EJazz News

“He has a perfect sense of both harmonic and melodic artistry… [he] deals in a realm of strikingly beautiful sonorities and dazzling color as well as glittering shade and delicate tones. Unique… Singular… Compelling…”
- George W. Carroll, EJazz News

Critic's Review

"Nick Russo's music has dozens of dimensions, his guitar threading through them all to tie together an inviting intriguing, beguiling sound world."
- Howard Mandel

"Nick Russo's music has the ingredients to satisfy both the fans of Mike Pingitore AND Sanjoy Bandopadhyay."
- Phil Schaap

Artists' Review

"Nick is a complete musician, a fine guitarist, composer, producer and band leader. The pairing of instruments is impressive. This is the kind of CD you listen to over and over again. I highly recommend it.
- Jimmy Heath

"Nick Russo's CD 'Ro' is marvelous! I think the guitar playing is terrific. I am very impressed! I am also impressed with the variety of the record. The music is unique and it's something that's needed in general because so many jazz records sound similar. I love the Indian Raga and the banjo playing, it was very different!"
- Jim Hall

"A beautiful CD! Nick Russo shows a highly personalized concept and musicianship and the highest caliber. This project demonstrates his great range and scope as both a composer and instrumentalist."
- Peter Bernstein

"The music on this album is universally wide and should appeal to all audiences. Nick Russo is definitely musically ready to be heard."
- Eddie Henderson