Listen Both Ways: George Schuller's Circle Wide
George Schuller – drums & bells
Peter Apfelbaum – tenor & melodica
Brad Shepik – guitar
Tom Beckham – vibes
Dave Ambrosio – bass
1. Could This Be The Year?
2. Store Without A Name
3. Better Than Prozac
4. Edwin
5. Jesus Maria
6. A Map Would Help
7. Newtoon
8. Bed Head
Listen Both Ways is the third studio recording by veteran drummer/composer George Schuller's longstanding quintet, Circle Wide. It follows the band's two previous Playscape Recordings releases, 2003's Round 'Bout Now and 2008's Like Before, Somewhat After, and is the first to concentrate on the leader's own music. Six of the eight tracks here are original compositions the group has shaped on the bandstand over the past four years. The other two are arrangements of Carla Bley's "Jesus Maria" and a piece by the severely under-recorded composer/lyricist Margo Guryan called "Edwin".
There's a track on the newish Listen Both Ways called "A Map Would Help," but the drummer's sextet always seems to know where it's going. The freebop sensibility that some improvisers struggle with has no problem flowing naturally from this reed-vibes-guitar front line. That means the pleasures of swing are blended with the oddities of outness.
— Jim Macnie, Village Voice
...a highly enjoyable new album...
— Time Out New York
George Schuller's grace and caring shine in his melodies, while the creative fire of his years of pushing, driving and supporting various ensembles remains unchanged. Find this music, play it often and it will give you much pleasure.
— Richard Kamins, Step Tempest
This playful cracked jazz set is just wonderful, especially the way the band flows from inside to outside. Tom Beckham's aggressively clanking vibes are a delight. Other drummers: note how warmly Schuller has recorded his drums.
— Paul de Barros, DownBeat
Listen Both Ways is the kind of record that doesn't fit into any convenient jazz subcategory; it's nonformulaic without feeling eccentric in any obvious or gimmicky ways, and it's unabashedly beautiful without seeming saccharine...very much the sound of a single ensemble, made up of really strong, distinctive, seasoned players who – the leader included – are probably less well known than they should be. Both together and as a unit, these players are putting forth something personal and intimate.
— Hank Shteamer, Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches
From the optimistic folk forms of "Could This Be The Year?" and the menacing blues abstraction "Better Than Prozac" to the angular hard bop swinger "Bed Head," Circle Wide expounds on a diverse selection of works that embody the same vanguard spirit espoused by visionary fusion innovators like pianist Paul Bley, vibraphonist Gary Burton and guitarist Larry Coryell. Expertly integrating freewheeling interplay with sophisticated charts, Listen Both Ways is the group's most definitive statement, and Schuller's most engaging session as a leader to date.
— Troy Collins,
A key jazz attraction is the resounding joy of teamwork, and "Edwin" stands as a superb example, indicative of the band's camaraderie, and the album's personality. A deep bond is formed by the front line of saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum, guitarist Brad Shepik and vibraphonist Tom Beckham. Each has a personal style that pinpoints the freedom-swing blend the boss is shooting for, so there's seldom a moment when someone feels at sea. A unity of purpose flows from this music.
— Jim Macnie, DownBeat
Uno dei mantra che si sente tra i critici, specie statunitensi, è che George Schuller è uno dei musicisti più sottovalutati. Sì, sarà il caso di cominciare a prendere sul serio l'affermazione. Listen Both Ways é disco di grande caratura: ben strutturato, trasmette un senso di freschezza e di affiatamento sia nelle esecuzioni più lunghe che in quelle più concise, sia in quelle più roventi che in quelle più "rilassate". Bella musica, libera, ma fermamente ancorata alla tradizione del jazz.
— Luca Casarotti, AllAboutJazz-Italia