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George Schuller’s Circle Wide

George Schuller offers led several noteworthy creative jazz organizations over time — through the huge ensemble Orange Then Blue towards the two times saxophone-driven quartet Schulldogs towards the piano-bass-drums George Schuller Trio — even though also playing a significant collaborative and/or helping role in a variety of other rings, including Conference Contact as well as the Michael Musillami Trio. Group Wide, formed from the drummer/composer/bandleader in 1999, can be one of is own most long-lived clothes. The group’s 2003 Playscape label debut, Circular ‘Bout Right now, was a tribute towards the transitional period of Kilometers Davis prior to the trumpeter completely embarked on the fusion path (as exemplified by an recording like Filles de Kilimanjaro), and presented Schuller on drums, cymbals, and “issues you tremble,” leading a primary quintet that included trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, saxophonist/flutist Donny McCaslin, vibraphonist Tom Beckham, and bassist Dave Ambrosio (with guests reedman Matt Darriau, guitarist Pete McCann, and accordionist Sonny Barbato). McCaslin, Beckham, and Ambrosio came back for Group Wide’s 2008 sophomore outing, Like Before, Relatively After (this time around having to pay tribute to Keith Jarrett’s quartet with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Paul Motian), offering the addition of guitarist Brad Shepik towards the lineup (along with Jamey Haddad guesting on percussion). In 2012 Playscape released Group Wide’s third recording, Listen Both Methods, comprised primarily of Schuller compositions (plus “Jesus Maria” by Carla Bley and “Edwin” by Margo Guryan) and offering the quintet of Schuller, Beckham, Ambrosio, Shepik, and tenor saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum.

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