Ruben Fox – Introducing…Ruben Fox
(Rufio Records. Album review by Adam Sieff)
Tenor saxophonist Ruben Fox’s sound contains the essence of the classic horn masters such as Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, something that was already apparent when he was a Tomorrow’s Warrior a decade ago. Now trading his London base for New York City and the epicentre of jazz, an album like this one will only help him build his presence there.
Introducing…Ruben Fox is his debut album and was recorded ‘over the course of one day in a small basement studio in NYC’, which considering the different setups is quite an achievement. It’s a warm and upfront sounding recording mixed by Benedic Lamdin with files mastered by Noel Summerville.
There’s a good balance between instrumental and vocal tracks, the latter featuring some phenomenal singers. Fox sets things up with the opener J.A.Z.Z. over Russell Hall’s double bass and Evan Sherman’s drums, soloing with melody and plenty of style – the track is classic in tone and feel but at the same time sounds totally contemporary and swings like mad. A Brighter Day has a catchy horn line with trumpeter Giveton Gelin and trombonist Corey Wilcox joining Fox, before they and pianist Mathew Picard all take fine solos. There’s a nice reference to Monk on the quartet piece ‘A Nod to the High Priest’ that allows everyone to stretch out.
As for the vocal tracks, Shenel Johns positively kills on the snappy Do You? over a piano trio featuring another excellent solo from Fox. Samara Joy is wonderful on the gorgeous Django’s Lullaby featuring guitarist Gabe Schnider, while South African vocalist Vuyo Sotashe is superb on the tender When Snow Falls on New York.
But as strong as these songs are, the warmest moment has to be So Much Joy by Ruben’s late father Mat Fox, (founder of performance group Kentika Boco) written soon after the birth of his son. With Samara Joy, Vuyo Sotashe and Shenel Johns singing in a 1940’s style three part harmony and the horns taking on the melody before soloing with…so much joy! The song is perfectly set up by the preceding The Dance of the Twins, a duet between Picard’s piano and the incredible tap dancing of Michaela Marino Lerman that’s just so much fun.
Saint-Saëns The Swan starts out straight before ending up gently swinging before Zorro (Spanish for Fox) is a short coda that neatly rounds things up. Ruben Fox has made a highly entertaining calling card that displays his considerable strengths as a producer, arranger, songwriter and instrumentalist with skill, artistry, humour and emotion.
Categories: Album review