Aaron Stroessner Quartet’s Newest Release
Eight original songs featuring:
Aaron Stroessner, guitar and songs
Kevin Lloyd, Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer piano, accordion
Andrew Mell, bass
Andrew Wray, drums
Almost everyone has some sort of natural gift, but what we do with these gifts is what makes the difference. Guitarist and composer Aaron Stroessner is well aware of this concept, and it is the central focus of his album Gifts. This is an excellent jazz album and a fitting tribute to his parents, in recognition of the gifts they passed down to him over the years.
The album’s title actually has a double meaning. The front cover shows a quilt his mother made, and the back shows a wooden bowl his father made. These are literally gifts he received from his parents, but they also serve as a metaphor for the other things he received from his parents which enriched his musical life.
Stroessner’s jazz journey has a few more twists and turns than usual. He earned a Bachelor of Music at Berklee College but, instead of getting into jazz, like many of his classmates, he decided to join a rock band. For nearly a decade, he fronted Dead Left, which he describes as a “country/punk/grunge/pop” group.
After Dead Left released four CDs, Stroessner decided to continue his education and return to his jazz roots. He earned a degree in jazz from New York University. He later moved to Nebraska to earn his DMA degree in Jazz Guitar from the University of Nebraska. He now serves as a professor of music at Nebraska Wesleyan, Wayne State College, Southeast Community College, and Iowa Western Community College.
—Kyle Simpler – All About Jazz
Some thoughts on “Gifts”. Keep in mind that I am no music critic, and I really have no idea what I’m talking about. But anyway, some reactions:
I love the hammond organ, first of all, and I like how it pairs with your electric guitar… I also like the kind of 50s-60s hipster jazz vibe you kick up. I get that jazz is all about the improv, but I like a bit more structure around it, and the pieces you do more of that appeal to me the most. Even in the least structured pieces, I really liked the melodies. You’ve always had a nice ear for catchy phrasing — harkens back to your Dead Left work.
Be Still – I love the slow jam – really lets me hear the jazz improv come through and for a slow processor like me, it’s easier to enjoy. (I have to listen to jazz with my eyes closed, especially at clubs, to hear what’s going on.)
Wonder – I loved the build and the uplift from this. Some Jeff Beck influence. In the later part of track, there is great interplay between the guitar and organ. I wanted this one to go on and traverse into some different area, but the ride as is was just fine.
Merry go Round – really liked this one. Little more up tempo and a lot of blending of more structured melodies with improv. Some fine wine in here.
Sit back – Shifting gears here, l like the energy.
Lost – Every new one seems to be a new fave. I like the melancholy feel at the beginning, and that old world accordion is the perfect accent.
Quarter Blues – I like the straight up blues.
VAD – Maybe my favorite track. Just so much energy and great playing on this one.
Wild West – Also one of my faves. I love the scene you set with this; wild west indeed.
—Greg Mischio, marketeer/author
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