Jazz Institute of Chicago
CD, like their previous "Water Logic," is a stand out recording
of a wonderful quartet. Everything comes together here, solid
modern playing, original thoughts and flawless performance.
quartet also presents something that jazz has lost, they are a
long-standing working group. Music of this dimension can only
occur when the musicians share the same mind set and play together
addition to saxophonist Brian Gephart, pianist Bob Long, bassist
Ken Haebich and drummer Ernie Adams, the quartet is expanded on
some tracks with vocalist Grazyna Auguscik, the strings Diane
Delin, Scott Dowd and Sara Wollan. Drummers Mark Ott and Tim Davis
also appear on some tracks.
program is adventurous and original, 12 new tunes and a new cover
on "Eleanor Rigby." The recording and mix are clear as a bell,
another fine job from Steve Yates. Check these guys at their club
dates and call them to get a copy of this CD!
Janowiak of ChicagoGigs.com
Unlike many jazzers, Brian Gephart and Bob
Long are not afraid to reveal an unspeakable truth: They grew
up in a world touched by the Beatles. It's self-evident -- they
actually cover "Eleanor Rigby" -- and it's not the only latter-20th
century influence apparent on this disc. The well-disciplined
howls of Gephart, for instance, carry the unmistakable stamp of
jazz-rock-fusion sax pioneer Michael Brecker, and the inviting
aesthetic of the original songs at times suggest the pop-jazz
sensibility of Pat Metheny.
The influences of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter
are plainly heard, too, in the care each musician has taken to
learn from the jazz masters. Although "Corners" tends to be inviting,
relaxed and easy on the ears, its musicianship would make even
a jazz purist proud.
Gephart and pianist Bob Long sound like they have worked together
for years. They have. This is their fourth recording in 10 years,
and they've gigged for ages in such spots as Pops for Champagne.
They possess that classic working-band sound: guys who are accustomed
to playing set after set, drumming up a musical dialogue that
is as entertaining to each other as to the people drinking it
in. "Corners" is a studio recording, but listen to the way Long
cackles at the end of the aptly titled "Killer Clowns" and the
joy of creative interaction shines through.
"Killer Clowns," incidentally, is both a highlight and low point
of the disc. Its repetitive funky motif is immediately gripping,
though after nearly 6 minutes, it wears a bit thin. "Eleanor Rigby,"
meanwhile, manages to sustain interest even though it clocks in
at nearly 11 minutes. Part of its longevity, I think, comes from
the way they sneak into the melody after an extended vamp that
scarcely hints at what song it is. The tasteful addition of strings
(real ones, not a cheesy synth!) helps too -- of course, you've
got to have strings if you're going to do "Eleanor Rigby." Another
longevity factor is the way the rhythm section ebbs and flows,
gradually building intensity.
And what a rhythm section this is. Gephart and Long were lucky
enough to recruit drummer Ernie Adams for most of this recording,
and his contribution proves valuable from the get-go as he artfully
punctuates Long's piano solo on the opener, "Canvas." Bassist
Ken Haebich lays down a solid bottom end and plays a bluesy solo
on "Mr. D."
Vocalist Grazyna Auguscik appears on two mellow back-to-back compositions
by Long, "La Nuit (for Cyd)" and the title track, "Corners." It's
her clear, airy presentations of these richly melodic pieces that
remind me of Metheny, for some intangible reason. And one spot
-- where Gephart softly doubles her melody to the accompaniment
of piano and a maraca or maybe just a shaker-egg -- stakes a claim
as the album's most sublime passage.
of Cadence Magazine
and Long are Chicago based and their music has that distinctive
Chicago sound, but not the form of traditional Jazz that many
think of as Chicago style. Gephart and Long's music is in that
later style that, for me at least, is equally distinctive to the
Windy City. It's a solid, muscular, self-assured sound that's
energetic, but not to the point of being "in your face."
Gephart likes to stretch out and blow lines; Long, to churn and
propel the music with his chordal combinations.
the selections here are originals, most by Gephart with one each
from Long, guitarist Johnson and bassist Haebich. On even the
more harmonically complex ones, the emphasis is on the melody.
The players are as unabashedly tender in their treatment of a
ballad as they are unpretentiously extroverted in their blowing.
As one would expect from a Chicago Jazz sound, you can hear traces
of the blues in almost all their offerings. But there is also
a tune with an Eastern European folk music theme, "If Not
Now, When?" that is equally reflective of Chicago's musical
Imagery aside, this is one of those albums where sixty minutes
of music goes by fast. Perhaps that's because Gephart and Long
have served up the Jazz equivalent of a Chicago steak with all
the trimmings. Their music has plenty of meat, is served with
lots of sizzle and, as a listener, made me want to pull up a chair
and dig right in.
of the Chicago Reader
November 15, 1996
a rule, I tend to shy away from groups like this - or rather,
from the groups with which people might easily confuse the Gephart
Long Quartet. At first glimpse, this quartet seems to comfortably
sail the seas of "contemporary" jazz, as saxophonist
Brian Gephart's throaty tenor and pliant soprano pilot the band
around that idiom's easy edges. Indeed, a few of the tracks on
the new CD (Water Logic, issued by the band itself) would probably
float with the WNUA audience. But even these songs hold interest
for those of us who like our music in the foreground; and the
rest of the album - which includes blues and bebop - reveals the
long, strong roots of each player.
so many modern saxophonists, Gephart has adopted the bright hard
sound of Michael Brecker, and he can play with all the glibness
of better-known colleagues. But Gephart often digs beneath that
veneer, a tendency that can be ascribed to the band as a whole.
Bob Long has developed into a tastefully aggressive accompanist
and a fluent soloist in his 15 years on the Chicago scene, and
bassist Ken Haebich and drummer Mark Ott provide a versatile,
flexible rhythmic base that can handle music drawn from both the
classic mainstream and postbop currents.
quartet won't set the world on fire; but with its solid original
repertoire and a clearly audible rapport developed over the last
five years, it can offer an evening of earnest and quite respectable
Sachs of the Chicago Sun-Times
August 28, 1997
This year's Jazz Club Tour was the most sweeping, geographically,
extending to the Velvet Lounge on the Near South Side, Joe's Bebop
Cafe on the Lake, the Empty Bottle in Ukrainian Village and the
Green Mill Uptown. While the musical styles on display didn't
range quite as far as they have in some years, the club-surfing
still was rich in diversity.
addition to introducing new artists to casual jazz fans, the tour
introduced new or newly relocated clubs. Chief among them was
the Bop Shop, which only a few weeks ago moved to the Cleopatra
Show Lounge at 1146 S. Wabash. Let's not mince words: The barroom
space is pretty seedy and cramped. But as demonstrated by the
Brian Gephart Bob Long Quartet, good music has a way of overcoming
ambiance - even peach-tinted lighting.
the city's young tenorists, Gephart has developed one of the more
personal sounds. A bluntly assertive soloist, he builds on the
styles of Joe Henderson and Sonny Rollins in staying close to
the ground, harmonically, and Von Freeman in his everpresent threat
to torch mainstream convention. Long is a solid hard bop stylist
and the band features first-rate originals..."
Sachs of the Chicago Sun-Times
Arts & Show
December 24, 1996
in to year's best Chicago jazz
the top 10 jazz albums of 1996 by Chicago artists:
Long Quartet, "Water Logic". An album of hard-bopping
delights and flowing meditations by a band that deserves to go
places - and have a label pick up this independently recorded
CD. Gephart, a tenor saxist with an enjoyably full sound, and
Long, a pianist known for his work with Henry Johnson, are joined
by that guitarist, who has rarely played on record with a harder
Noel of the Daily Southtown
December 6, 1996
local jazz group (two members live in Evanston, one in Oak Park
and one in Chicago) offers something for all jazz fans.
the purists who prefer a moody Miles Davis-like sound, there is
"Weather or Not."
those fond of sultry Latin-tinged jazz, there's the seven and
a half minute (and very beautiful) "Song for Bala."
the fan who favors festive party music, the lead track, "Marbles,"
for the morose, the closing track, "If Not Now, When?"
could have come from "Fiddler on the Roof."
these reasons, "Water Logic," an album financed by the
group without the benefit of a record label, succeeds on several
Gephart, who plays tenor and soprano saxophones (and wrote all
but three of the album's 10 songs), shares the spotlight with
pianist Long (who wrote one). Both are flawless and helped along
by Ken Haebich's bass (Haebich wrote one song) and Mark Ott's
hour of solid jazz awaits.