Jesse van Ruller 27.4.18

Brilliant Dutch jazz guitarist Jesse van Ruller showed just why he has such a towering international reputation when he played sell-out gigs on successive evenings at Oliver’s in Greenwich. Backed by Irish percussion virtuoso David Lyttle and ace bassist Conor Chaplin, he gave a masterclass in musicianship that left the audience wide-eyed with admiration and whooping with delight. The set I saw was bookended with storming versions of the 1960s’ compositions Serenity and A Shade Of Jade, both written by one of his greatest influences, American legend Joe Henderson. Van Ruller’s artistry was perfectly matched by Lyttle’s dazzling drumming, which even featured passages played with his bare hands, and by Chaplin’s astonishing runs on the double bass. In between, van Ruller played self-penned numbers including what for me was the highlight of the set, a gorgeous slow ballad entitled Memorabilia which showcased not only his talent as a writer but also his amazing ability to create a lyrical mood without ever losing sight of the essential rhythm that defines all great jazz. It helped, of course, that Lyttle and Chaplin were in the form of their lives, helping to make this truly a night to remember.

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