Jim Robitaille, Space Cycles Review
by Sylvannia Garutch
Jim Robitaille is a guitarist and award-winning composer. He has performed and or recorded and shared the bill with Dave Liebman, Karl Berger, Bob Moses, Joe Beck, Gerry Gibbs, Santi Debriano, Julian Lage, Esperanza Spalding, Oscar Stagnaro, Vic Juris, Kate McGarry, Eric Wyatt, Pop singer Billy Gilman, and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars. Robitaille has appeared on 30 recordings and documentary films, including “To Music,” and “A View From Within” on Whaling City Sound with the Jim Robitaille Group featuring NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman. His latest release on Whaling City Sound is called Space Cycles. He is joined by Bill Miele on bass and Chris Poudrier on drums to present ten tracks.
“Natural Selection” is a relaxed straight-eight composition that is built around Robitaille’s arpeggiated figures. Miele and Poudrier fill the sound stage with supportive sounds as Robitaille moves from melody to improvising. His solo is well-structured, he favors descending flurries that ornament his melodic structures. Robitaille’s tone is bright, not strident, but clear and defined. There is reverb and a touch of chorus to broaden the sound.
Hearing Robitaille playing a standard shows his understanding of the jazz tradition. “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” is a standard from the 50’s and it fits the trio style and approach. Robitaille’s melody and chords work together to build a full-spectrum sound. Miele takes the first solo, his lines are clear, and he follows the changes. Robitaille’s comping shows maturity and sensitivity. The swing six-four feel is intensified as Robitaille builds his solo. Poudrier’s drumming is a conversation with the guitar as well as supportive. Robitaille makes a satisfying musical statement on this one.
Space Cycles has a pleasing mix of standards and originals, and the trio plays both with heart and musical substance. The experience is impressive, unpretentious, charming, and abundant in musical gems. Space Cycles is a satisfying listen from a formidable guitarist.