Jan Sturiale – ‘ROADMAPS’ CD review by Sammy Stein

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Guitar player Jan Sturiale is an independent musician, composer and performing artist who is not easily categorised (definitely my kind of performer).

He has worked with many respected musicians including Hiram Bullock, Bob Reynolds, Janek Gwizdala, Vardan Ovsepian, Damian Erskine, Ziv Ravitz, Dean Brown and many others and has performed in some of the best New York Jazz venues including “The Bar Next Door”, “Shape Shifter Lab” and the “Why Not Jazz Room” and has toured theatres and clubs in Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, France as a sideman and leader. This CD features Jan on guitar, Jan Pukl (one of the most interesting young sax players of today, worked with Maceo Parker, Branford Marsalis, Dave Liebman, Esperanza Spalding, Vijay Iyer, Damion Reid, Rodney Green, Charles Altura, Joe Sanders, Aaron Goldberg, Marcus Gilmore and many more), Slovenian Markus Churnchetz ( Seamus Blake, Don Menza, Ron McClure, Marcus Gilmore, Joe Sanders and more) on piano and Fender Rhodes, composer and teacher Miha Koren on bass and Klemens Marktl ( George Garzone, Seamus Blake, Aaron Goldberg, Chris Cheek, John Swana, Kenny Werner and many more) on drums.

The CD opens with ‘Full Moon – M1’ which is a laid back, easy flowing number presented by the whole band initially and centred around a strong central theme with plenty of guitar work and a lovely tenor solo which takes the music someplace else. This combined with the tight and spot on rhythmic background makes this an enjoyable track. ‘The E-Song -M1’ is another gentle, easy on the ears number with lots of harmony and again features a great sax theme. The guitar is sophisticated and gently rises above the rest to emerge as a solo. Then that sax of Jan Pukl again – completely lovely before the band re-join and we are off on the road again in a driving, drum-led section.  ‘Roadmaps -M1’ is led in by the sax, again emphasising the variety of style with which Jan Pukl can play as this is more reedy, fast fingered and breathy. The band then come together with lots of chordal work and the piano occasionally rising above the theme before a solo is developed by Marko Churnchetz. The solid guitar of Jan Sturiale supports throughout and solo’s towards the third section with some intricate improvised variation in and around the theme. The bass is given its place in the sun and this is made good use of by Miha Koren right at the end.

‘One Little Finger’ is another easy, laid back, gentle number with lots of harmony between the band and features a blistering bass solo over guitar chords whilst the sax picks up the pace during its solo. Then ‘Intro- M1’ is short at 58 seconds and rather sweet, led by the sax.  I was not sure what is was introducing but the track following ‘Major-Suspension-M1’ is interesting and features every musician at different stages. There are many different aspects during this five-and-a-half minute journey, much made by the piano which rises and falls under and over the other instruments, creating a kind of dialogue which is effective. The guitar sets the rhythm and leads but with a subtlety which makes for a clever and interesting track during which everyone gets to solo.

‘Mercy Street- M1’ is a freer, improvised track which offers a very different atmosphere and scene, at least initially until the freer playing is absorbed into a more structured and thematic line and before you know it we are sashaying along in a swinging number with a slightly bluesy overtone. The sax rises above and beyond the music at times, offering a distinct jazz reference overline whilst the rhythm maintains the bluesy feel, a great combination. The final section is freer again, mainly due to the sax’s style which brings us full circle.

‘Blessed Relief-M1’ is a gentle stroll and features a great guitar solo from Jan Sturiale, giving way after some minutes to a sax solo which takes us to the finish. It is followed by ‘Dark Grey – M1’ which is rolling, gentle and soothing.

This is a great CD if you need to relax as there is much gentleness in it and yet there is just enough variation to keep the listener engaged. It has to be said, what is outstanding is the sax playing, along with some strong support from piano and the rest of the band but the sax soars time and time again, demonstrating the calibre of Jure Pukl.  This proves maturing leadership because Jan makes the best use of the superb musicians under his guidance. The CD is interesting, clever in parts and shows the continuing development of a musician whose composing and musicianship are on the rise.

Personnel: Jan Sturiale – guitar. Jure Pukl – saxophone. Marko Churnchetz – piano and fender rhodes.  Miha Koren – bass. Klemens Marktl – drums.
Recorded at Bunker Studios, Brooklyn. Recorded and mixed by John Davis (Nerve) and mastered by Alex De Turk

To find out more about this artist/buy his latest CD –  visit his website:   Jan Sturiale

Text: Sammy Stein

Photo’s:  Courtesy of the Artist

Also, check out our Jan Sturiale  Article from Jun 17, 2014

Last modified: July 15, 2018