Jeff Rupert & Richard Drexler: R&D
By GEANNINE REID
December 24, 2018
Rupert and Drexler are at it again, on the heels of their successful release Imagination (Rupe Media, 2017), now with the second unreleased selection of cuts captured from a portion of two nights by saxophonist Jeff Rupert and pianist Richard Drexler at the Timucua Arts White House in Orlando in June of 2015. The tracks have been held in the vault until now and its simply titled R & D. Rupert and Drexler are longtime music collaborators and friends. This chemistry is reflected deeply on their latest endeavor.
“The Song Is You” is given a powerful reading. The energy Rupert and Drexler are able to create in a duet setting is striking. Both musicians have a beautiful sense of time. Even though the pulse is up-tempo, the feel is never rushed or unclear. The arrangement follows feel changes in the form, all of which are conveyed with authority, while maintaining the sense of pulse and direction. Rupert’s solo is active, yet still melodic, as he plays long flowing lines through the changes. This is a live recording, and the energy of playing jazz in the moment in front of an enthusiastic crowd can be heard and felt. Drexler’s right-hand spins effortless arpeggios, as his left hand creates the rhythmic and harmonic bed rock for his solo. Hearing these two in a duet setting clearly conveys the power of their lines with melodic clarity and their stellar time feel.
The two perform a moving waltz version of “Edelweiss.” The melody is spun to its finest beauty by Rupert. His sound is full as he launches into his solo. He incorporates bluesy figures within this solo, which fit well in his style. A style that is full of the language of jazz and comes from the Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley with a hint of Sonny Stitt camp. Rupert’s playing combines bop and hard bop with soul, and runs through today’s modern harmonic language throughout, but always focuses on melody. Drexler’s solo builds upon a strong motif that he spins around the keyboard, coloring it with modern pentatonic and chromatic movement. The trading of fours is always a treat to listen to with these two, with each listening and building upon each other’s lines. This is a lovely tune and it is nice to hear it making its way into the jazz repertoire. With versions like this one, we certainly are going to hear it even more in the future, I predict.
Rupert and Drexler are a consummate pair, their rapport is felt not only in the notes played, but in the breaths in between the notes as the two connect seamlessly. It is easy to hear why they have remained longtime collaborators, as the chemistry is evident with each form taken. The depth is in the listening, the subtleties and the small intricacies. R&D serves as a wonderful documentation of two outstanding soloists in their element.
Track Listing: The Song Is You; Someday; O Grande Amor; Edelweiss; Johnny Come Lately; Imagination; The Night Has a Thousand Eyes; Soul Eyes.
Personnel: Jeff Rupert: saxophone; Richard Drexler: piano.
Title: R&D | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Rupe Media