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B R A N D O N R o s s / Press

"... The acoustic duo of guitarist/ banjoist Brandon Ross and bass guitarist Stomu Takeishi, For Living Lovers is, as its name suggests, an intimate project. The conversations are quiet and deep. Not everything is said out loud, and there is mystery present; often, when you think you’ve got a hold on the music, it slips away from you. Like life and love, the world of For Living Lovers is never static. And even if they’re intertwined, two voices can never be the same..."

"Of the many CDs I have stockpiled in my basement, there are plenty that I consider to be masterpieces. One of them features both Brandon Ross and Stomu Takeishi, the two musicians who make up the acoustic duo For Living Lovers. But that masterpiece, Where’s Your Cup by Henry Threadgill and Make a Move, may not be an adequate springboard for some light listeners wanting to dive into Revealing Essence. With just Ross on acoustic guitars and sometimes banjo and Takeishi on acoustic bass, this is about as subtle as organic sounds can get..."

“Brandon Ross has contributed greatly to the music of Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, Cassandra Wilson and many others, but Costume (Intoxicate), his leader debut, offers a new and intimate view of his musicianship. Playing mainly acoustic guitar, Ross surrounds himself with acoustic-bass guitarist Stomu Takeishi and drummer J.T. Lewis, adding Graham Haynes' cornet, Gregoire Maret's harmonica, Shuni Tsou's dizi (Chinese flute) and Sadiq Bey's vocals along the way. "Another Approach" leads off, its calm 6/8 feel offset by Ross' twangy intensity. Ross plays two absorbing duets with Takeishi, "No Wonder" and "One Solar Year," and offers an astringent banjo take on Ornette Coleman's "Race Face." But Costume is more a panoply of textures than a virtuoso showcase. The three vocal numbers, "Peace Flows," "I Am the Light" (by the Reverend Gary Davis) and the traditional "Twelve Gates to the City," are accessible yet hauntingly unresolved. "Dry Lips" is an ocean of improvised space. And "Anthem”

“Harriet Tubman "Ascension" ... Here are three guys that decided to name their group after a key abolitionist and Underground Railroad escort from the Civil War era and gave their album the same name as a John Coltrane record that’s considered more than just a little bold—it was a freaking rocket to the sun. Brandon Ross, Melvin Gibbs, and J.T. Lewis, who all were notable purveyors of weird and freaky jazz-rock hybrids before joining forces, understand and take advantage of the proportionate link between risk and quality. They are laying themselves on a train track here. The good news is that the music coalesces perfectly. Even in the throes of elastic song forms being pushed and pulled by a highly creative improvisational style, Ascension doesn’t seem to waste a single note. ...The bad news? There is no bad news. This album is fantastic... ”

“Back in the late 1990s, Harriet Tubman caused a stir by ranging gracefully from tenderness to bombast, confounding ideas about form and structure, and suggesting several musical styles while adhering to none. Mr. Gibbs would issue throbs and bubbles of sound from his bass, then play delicate melodies. Mr. Lewis segued from loose-limbed swing to sledgehammer 4/4 without a hiccup. And Mr. Ross was a guitar antihero, unwilling to posture or play licks. A debut album, "I Am a Man" (Knitting Factory Records), earned glowing reviews. "Yet we've faced resistance from record labels and promoters ever since," Mr. Ross said. "The jazz folks think we're too rock. The rock guys think we're too jazz. Really, we're neither. People seem to need and want categories, but our experience is that when audiences hear what we do, they might not know what to call it but they connect with it. It's clear." Here is a trio headed somewhere exciting. "... a road to emancipation."”

“HARRIET TUBMAN DOUBLE TRIO [BRANDON ROSS/MELVIN GIBBS/J T LEWIS + RON MILES/DJ LOGIC/DJ SINGE] - Ascension (Sunnyside 1274; USA) This fabulous disc was recorded live at the Knitting Factory in September of 2000. It has taken more than a decade to get this treasure released but damn, it was well worth the wait! most intense ... Best jazz/funk/rock power (double) trio of the year or perhaps decade! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery”

"...These are musicians so technically advanced, so experienced, that there is no barrier; a soundscape of original stories..." - The Jazz Shark, Sue Edwards

Sue Edwards - The Jazz Shark
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