Reviews

Georg Ruby Village Zone

Only a few have made such a name for themselves in German jazz as Georg Ruby: as (co-)initiator of the Cologne label JazzHausMusik and the Cologne Stadtgarten-Concerts, as a big band leader and jazz professor, as a teacher and journalist. Enough, he is also one of the great piano virtuosos in German jazz, animated by an astonishing technical capability and an inexhaustible melodic fantasy. In a trio with bassist Stephan Goldbach and drummer Daniel "D-Flat" Weber he presents on his current CD four Instant Composings, three notated compositions from his own hand, one of his percussionist and a standard by Ornette Coleman. His Instant Composings are free improvisations which are combined with skillfully prepared piano include tonal alienations. These pieces always follow a formal connection, a consistent arc of tension, are anticipatorily oriented towards the end and in this sense they are not just free improvisations, but actually ad-hoc compositions of the finest quality. "Lonely Woman by Ornette Coleman is apparently one of Ruby's favorite standards. Herewith he gives Insight into his musical thought processes. Even in the presentation of the theme, the piece varies to such an extent that it is not immediately recognizable. What variable If changes emerge, "execution work" in the classical sense is a highly intelligent one, congenial handling of the musical material. Ruby's composition "Rubum Allorans" develops out of a bizarre bass motif and then gives you the opportunity to play with the to develop an extremely accelerated musical showdown. The counterpoint to this is the unspeakably sad jingling of the coins in "Potosi", a piece by about the man-destroying Silver City in Bolivia. Here, the circle of a very inspiring program.
Benno Bartsch - Jazz Podium - June/July 2019

… You'll also hear Jazzhausmusik label boss, Georg Ruby, stepping out on his own as he occasionally does to show what a great pianist he is. His trio tears it up on Village Zone. … The piano trio is one of the best balanced configurations in jazz, principally in that it allows for ample unconsumed space, otherwise occupied by wind instruments, among others. The Andrew Hill Trio, the Kris Davis Trio, notables examples are plenty, the closest of which to Georg Ruby's may be the Eric Watson Trio, whose music, except for Jaded Angels (2006, Act) is still too tender to be considered for a proper analogy. Ruby is an adept, mechanical performer, not unlike Taborn. But where Craig Taborn is pragmatic, Ruby, like a German idealist, remains methodical yet metaphysical. His "instant composing" too is functional but frenzied, as in the piece Legrand, whereby in almost villainous manner, the trio beset the set, the likes of which are rarely found among structured works of jazz.
Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah's „YEAR IN REVIEW“ / 12 Best Releases of 2019 by Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah / ALL ABOUT JAZZ / December 13, 2019

 

Georg Ruby Piano Solo

Georg Ruby’s music inhabits a place different from the other musicians under discussion. He always has one foot in the Jazz tradition while the other is way outside. He often prepares the piano, as on the two iterations of “Prison Song,” but he does so subtly, his rhetoric deep in the Blues while transforming it, often out of recognition. Along similar lines, there is his take on “Bye Bye Blackbird,” where fragments of the melody and its attendant rhythms gradually bloom to become sonorities related to but far removed from the standard, only later morphing into the tune as we recognize it. His group recording is similarly engaging, the compositions paying periodic homages to Monk’s unexpected twists and turns of phrase while always hanging just on the edges of accessibility; the playing of all involved follows suit. Ruby’s work encapsulates the Jazzhaus aesthetic, if one exists.
( Larry Hollis – Cadence Magazin, New York – 1/2/3/2010)

… and on the other hand the solo performance of piano player Georg Ruby from Cologne: according to “Jazz Classics By Today’s Improvisers” he takes up (often already defamiliarized) standards for his programme “From Ellington to Coleman”. He varies and takes them to pieces and improvises in such a subtle, imaginative manner keeping the spirit of the compositions alive yet opening new horizons. Ruby’s sensible and sensuous performance with a sonorous, swinging left and a rolling dynamic right hand - whose syncopic pounding reminds of the piano part of Wolfgang Riehm’s “Chiffre”-cycle - has become the first high point of the year.
(Michael Rieth/Frankfurter Rundschau)

Georg Ruby has rendered outstanding services to the German jazz scene in many ways - as co-founder of the Sadtgarten in Cologne, as manager of JazzHaus Musik and as conductor of junior big bands. It is sometimes unjustly overlooked that he furthermore belongs to the outstanding German jazz piano players. Ruby is especially convincing when it comes to the hardest test for the abilities of an improvising musician: the unaccompanied piano solo.
His concert on DLF, December, 12th in 2005, was amazing because of his powerful technique and great imaginative improvisation. Original compositions as well as standards as “Bye, bye, blackbird” or even The Mackeben’s movie soundtrack “Bei dir war es immer so schön” turned out to be sensitive masterpieces.
(Harald Rehmann/DLF)

Georg Ruby - Michel Pilz

Bad Neustadt-born, Luxembourg-based Michel Pilz was part of the aforementioned Clarinet Contrast and played with Brötzmann in the Globe Unity Orchestra. Deuxième Bureau finds Pilz with Cologne-based pianist Georg Ruby, a master of free form, who spends more time prodding and poking his instrument’s innards than playing the keyboard. The results contrast harsh string strumming with pressurized lowing or frenetic triple-tonguing. Rattling the soundboard and wound strings, Ruby’s textures on tunes like “Lunettes Bifocales” resonate like gongs as Pilz’ chromatic lines define the theme. The two confirm their roots with “Blues Pour Solène” though, a piece that could have been played by Albert Nicholas and Don Ewell.
(Ken Waxman / Ney York City Jazz Report 06-2012)

Another duo. This one is really good. Ruby on piano reflects a variety of influences from John Cage to Cecil Taylor while Pilz also reflects a number of influences from Eric Dolphy to contemporary classical music. All compositions are listed as being by both performers, and given the nature of the performances, I would say they are all improvisations, with some agreement as to how each piece would develop. Though in some cases, especially in a long section of Papier Buvard, some passages could have been composed, or at least sketched out. Each piece is fairly short. At times I would have liked more development in a particular piece, but each piece is complete in itself. This is a very good example of leave the wanting more.
Ruby does some great playing on the strings, and at some points it sounds like he is playing on a prepared piano, while at other times he is clearly playing on a regular piano. On Reprise he sounds almost like a gamelan. And his work on Lunettes Bifocals is outstanding.
Pilz is all over his horn, playing nice quiet passages to some serious screaming. His lyricism in the beginning of Papier Quadrille is almost reminiscent of Ben Webster playing a ballad, making allowances, of course, for the different instrument. But the piece develops a bit more raucously.
One track that really took me surprise is Blues Pour Solene. After hearing some complex interplaying, all of a sudden we hear an actual blues line. Of course, the piece develops in the style that has been established, but Pilz keeps reminding the listener that he is playing a blues, no matter how out it might be. It is nice to hear such a range of playing from a couple of classically trained European jazz players.
This is a really great record featuring great playing by two great musicians who listen to each other an work well off of each other. This record may not be for everyone, but for those listeners who like this kind of music, this record is highly recommended.
(Cadence Magazine – Bernie Koenig – 8/9/10-2012)


Jasslab de Cologne feat. Georg Ruby

Jasslab de Cologne honors Hildegard Knef – with trendsetting jazz chansons
It is true that jazz musicians don't often dare to enter the songwriter's circle. In some places some musicians do – yet doing it just the other way round, like Paolo Conte in Italy or Claude Nougaro in France who are writing songs explicitly using the sound of jazz. This mixture is very popular ever since, letting them catch up with leading chansonniers like Charles Trenet, for whom jazz has been as native as his own language.
In Germany it seems that recently only the work of Lisa Bassenge bodes what could be possible for song respectively chanson in jazz. Post-war Germany has failed to resume the tradition of the great composers of the 1920ies that has been destroyed by the Nazis. Frederick Hollaender's, Werner Richard Heymann's or Theo Mackeben's memory has been (as that of many other mainly Jewish artists) suppressed or they have even been forgotten. Those have been successful after the war who went to America – like Marlene Dietrich, who has been confronted with the hate of lots of Germans in 1945 as she returned to Germany to entertain GIs, wearing the victor's uniform.
Paying attention to all of this is important to understand the particular importance of Hildegard Knef – because she has set milestones that helped music to come to maturity in the „Wirtschaftswunderland“ nourished by the Americans. She countered smooth overseas' elegance with her own broken profile – time and again the voice of the educated actress has been compared to the sound of a „bell with a crack“. A clear, strong and shining sound as from Barbara Barth, interpreting „die Knef“ with Jasslab Cologne, hasn't been heard in the case of the original. Barths elegant interpretation wouldn't be as interesting (as impressive as it is) if Georg Ruby, piano player and arranger, and his jazz ensemble would not follow a completely different course in working with the legend Hildegard Knef. And if not they would have placed the Knef songs in a setting together with masterpieces from the jazz neighbourhood – three songs from Cole Porter (whose compositions she also has sung) are featured along with other classics from Knef's repertoire.
Georg Ruby's team rearranges the original versions as sincere as very smart – of Ralph Maria Siegel, Charly Niessen, trendsetting big band arranger Hans Hammerschmid, as well as encore, of Theo Mackeben. On „Eins und eins ...“, the title song, Jasslab gets rid of its sweet three-four time. The Ensemble also easily does without the middle part's circus waltz rhythm with the admiration needing lyrics of „Der Mensch an sich“. The story of „Ich hab' noch einen Koffer in Berlin“ starts off as tinny as it would sound from an old transistor radio just to reach out for the endless freedom of jazz in the end. And „Für mich soll's rote Rosen regnen“ is drifiting, yet steady on the sounds of the ensemble's freely invented and profoundly worked out version of jazz. Knef's rediscovery may be ascribed to the spirit of Cole Porter, who is represented on one half of this great recording, because anyhow he was composing and writing jazz chansons.
Mackeben's finale „Frauen sind keine Engel“ is like a somewhat ironic epilogue – the singer vanishes more and more and is replaced by silence. The great silence began in February 2002 – when Hildegard Knef, the Berlin girl from Bavarian Ulm, died at the age of 76. Silence is over now. New Knef conjurations – unfamiliar, yet familiar as here – are welcome. Jasslab has made a fresh start.
Michael Laages, SWR 2 - Liederbestenliste