"SIMPLICITY is a wonderful album, beautifully conceived, written, played.  Congratulations to you and all the others involved in it.  As Red Mitchell, one of my heroes, said, "Simple isn't easy."
 
   It makes me especially happy to hear in the music that Jimmy Giuffre's wisdom and spirit are still much alive; I think SIMPLICITY achieves a lot of what was most important to Jimmy.  There's a remarkable set of balances in the music, between control and abandon, consonance and dissonance, strong and gentle, complex and simple, all of that.  You could say Yin and Yang, if you were of that mind.
 
   Anyhow, Jimmy would love this album as much as I; I hope he's heard it.  It's so good to hear music that reaches for so much, but does it so gracefully.  I hope you're hard at work on another one."
 
Best Wishes,  Steve Swallow


"Plays with grace and a lyrical touch." Nat Hentoff



"He really does something different." Jimmy Giuffre
"Bob's writing is fresh, innovative and in no way typical of the middle of the road published material available from so many companies. The students here have really enjoyed his charts."

Tom Fowler, Director of Education, Wichita Jazz Festival, Wichita State University


BOB NIESKE Simplicity Accurate 5042 (70:31)

PHIL GRENADIER Sweet Transients Fresh 5ounds/New Talent 093 (62:51)

Aside from New York, Boston may now be the leading jazz center in this country. Some of the major figures in the new- music scene attended the New England Conservatory of Music and Berklee, and then migrated to New York. A number of fine performers, however, remain based in Boston, including bassist Bob Nieske and trumpeter Phil Grenadier.

Nieske wrote all of the compositions on Simplicity, which are performed by two groups: a trio including Nieske, Grenadier and drummer Nat Mugavero; and that trio plus the Lydian String Quartet. The charts are fresh and spare: Nieske's written the themes and string parts, but most pieces don't have preset chord changes. Not to worry, Grenadier's such a melodic, intelligent soloist that his open improvisation is totally coherent; he resolves his phrases perfectly. Nieske's a powerful, heavy bassist who really lifts the music as an accompanist and is a strong, inventive soloist. In both roles his playing is economical, but he makes every note count. Mugavero's musicianship also deserves a lot of praise; everything he plays is right on the money.

Grenadier's such a pleasure to hear on both recordings. On Sweet Transients he's with tenorman Seamus Blake, pianist Ethan Iverson, his bassist brother Larry Grenadier and drummer Bill Stewart. The group plays the standard "Alone Together" plus compositions by Nieske, Jobim, Kenny Wheeler, Horace Silver and Wayne Shorter. Phil Grenadier also contributed the title-track original, which features trading and contrapuntal improvisation by him and Blake. Grenadier, who's been influenced by Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Clifford Brown and Woody Shaw, is a technically superb trumpeter. He's so secure, with a great range, precise articulation and rock-solid time and pitch. His tone is full and pretty, and he's bursting with fresh melodic phrases. While he can pldy very well on traditional changes or in a free setting, I prefer to hear him in the latter context, as it brings out his most imaginative playing. Similarly, Blake's an accomplished all-around improviser who's at his best in more challenging situations. And Iverson's delicate, lyrical playing deserves all kinds of praise. "Cali Mist," though featuring open improvising, has a good deal of variety and hangs together very well. I could stand to hear a whole album's worth of such mate- rial by these gifted artists. Harvey Pekar


Bob Nieske 3 SIMPLICITY (Accurate) Boston Phoenix, Feb 15, 2001

Bassist Bob Nieske's trio makes airy, intimate, and lyrical free jazz that's easy to get next to. Nieske,trumpeter Phil Grenadier, and drummer Nat Mugavero are all careful listeners, which means the music can get busy without sounding crowded. But just as important, they can say a lot with a little.

Each concise track on Simplicity packs an emotional wallop with a poetic minimum of notes. For instance, Nieske's moving solo on the haunting ballad "Wee Three" plumbs profound emotional depths with just a few simple notes. Drummer Mugavero's highly edited accompaniment is full of space and delicate shadings, but nevertheless provides drive and momentum. Grenadier harnesses a warm, dark tone and big vocabulary of expressive smears and frayed notes to an effortlessly lyrical approach that is a perfect foil to Nieske's own melodic inventiveness.

When the trio locks into its three-way contrapuntal interplay, tunes like "The Stretch," "Emma," and "Phil's Thrill" achieve an organic unity heard only in the very best improvised music.

On six of the album's 13 tracks, the Lydian String Quartet joins the trio to provide harmonic thickening and richer coloration. BY ED HAZELL


DOUGLAS, NIESKE NEW JAZZ ROYALTY by Martin Wisckol-American Reporter Correspondent

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- On "Praise," trumpet solo swells with hope,with brightness and joy, then abruptly subsides to a resigned starkness before swelling again, at one point breaking into the dancing folk riff of Charlie Haden's bass solo on Ornette Coleman's "Ramblin'." Then again, his line turns downward, dragging the beat, kicking the proverbial tin can down a blind alley.

It is the transcendent poetry of Dave Douglas, the latest addition to the jazz royalty. The year began with Douglas being named Artist of the Year by Jazz Times. The summer brought the same accolade from Downbeat's critics, as well as honors for best trumpeter and best album ("Soul on Soul"). He's the virtual King of Jazz! Finally, perhaps, we can stop hearing about Wynton at every turn, about the emporer's museum robes (which, despite popular opinion, have always been transluscent if not altogether invisible).

"Evening" features one of Douglas' three or four working bands, the one with accordion, violin and bass. It's a melancholic program of Balkan modes, with violinist Mark Feldman occasionally erupting with exhilarating lines. But the overall outing is less exotic than the instrumentation and melodies indicate. And if Douglas' tart, punchy lines leave a listener longing for the highly personalized trumpet stylisms of Miles (Prince of Darkness) or Lester Bowie (Clown Prince), well, maybe you'll just have to try Italy's Pino Minafra or Poland's Tomasz Stanko. And never mind that talented Euros don't get much acknowledgement in the U.S..

"Evening" lacks the delicious turns of "Soul on Soul" and the rich, sophisticated melody spinning of his "In Our Lifetime." Your mind might even wander, your finger might even push a button to rotate the next disc up and if it's Bob Nieske's new one, you'll hear tumpeter Phil Grenadier take a solo on "The Stretch" that goes from a bluesy cry to a brief, fluttering flight, a flock of sparrows suddenly released into the sky.

It's a wonderful album of shadowy, off kilter melodies played by an unsung drum-bass-horn trio joined on half the cuts by the Lydian String Quartet. Bassist and composer Nieske's charts are superb in concept and execution, and cast the strings in everything from noir soundtracks to sawing post-Bartok refrains. Drummer Nat Mugavero displays a brilliant sense of when to lay back and when to pounce forward with a surprising counterpoint to his colleagues' lines. Grenadier, who arrives from a decade or so of studio work, displays a fire and style that could earn him a knighthood, maybe even ...

No no no. Douglas has just become the King of Jazz. Let him go ahead and wave his sceptor about while we throw spitballs at the throne and revel in the joys of inspired unknowns like Grenadier and Nieske. Martin Wisckol is a writer who can be contacted at Martin_Wisckol@link.freedom.com.


Boston-based Bob Nieske has been an integral part of the area's cerebral jazz activities, working with legendary musicians likeGeorge Russell and Jimmy Giuffre, as well as the Either/Orchestra. He's an outstanding bassist. Like Charlie Haden and Wilbur Ware, he favors the instrument's lower register, picking his notes for maximum structural significance. The same thoughtful approach carries over to his spare compositions and the stark trio he leads with trumpeter Phil Grenadier and drummer Nat Mugavero.

It's minimalist jazz, and each piece has a deliberate air. Grenadier's style comes from Miles Davis and Don Cherry, and each note is embedded with meaning, whether it's a brassy declaration or a muttered aside. The veteran Mugavero swings, but he does it almost by suggestion. The group uses space and resonance almost as collaborators, and there's no sense of uncomfortable hesitation, just the lines accumulating to make a satisfying whole. The slow "Wee Three" is so sparse that it suggests a Japanese collective form of ink drawing.

The Lydian String Quartet joins the trio on six tracks, and the merger works very well. Nieske keeps using the strings in different ways, and the extended composed parts create almost a secondary soundscape to the trio's.

"Simplicity" is an ethos here as well as the title track, and the tune's airy lightness suggests Nino Rota's carnival-inspired music for Fellini. Redefining his palette, Nieske uses the strings to create an atmosphere that's almost lush on "I Don't Know." The two versions of "The Stretch," played both with and without the strings, are highlights, with the concluding trio performance containing an extended Nieske solo filled with original touches. Though evocative of the late 1950s, this music sounds fresh, as notable for what's left out as for what remains." --Stuart Broomer


"Wolf Soup is a group that created a stir at Fort Napoleon in La-Seyne-sur-Mer in 96. Here they are,back with an extremely accomplished second album. The leader,Bob Nieske,played with Jimmy Giuffre,from whom he learned a sense of purity. He's a sober,singing and powerful bassist with a big round sound, a great sensibility and delicate subtility. A kind of Charlie Haden,but more powerful and more lyrical. He is also a great composer and a wonderful arranger who knows how to play with orchestral colors, for example in "In a Sentimental Mood" he uses unusual intervals that give the illusion of a complete reed section when there are only two saxes.

All the tunes are atmospheric pieces with evident melodic beauty and rich harmonies. Bob also knows how to combine different rhythms, as in "Current"(10)where the bass plays in 5/4,while the melody is in 4/4,creating a delay that still has an apparent simplicity. In "Grey",the bass plays an ostinato while the very special guitarist, Jon Damian, and the rest of the band give us a beautiful and nostalgic presentation.

Every musician in the band has a strong personality and knows how to use it in a way that fits the arrangement,atmosphere and tempo of a music that has been written for that particular(five years old)formation. This record is a global,fresh and rejoicing work,with a swinging and singing modernity.

Bob confesses that not knowing what the question is or what the answer is, is what Wolf Soup's music is all about." Serge Baudot, Jazz Hot magazine, France 1998


"Wolf Soup est un groupe qui avait cree´ un joli choc au Fort Napole´on a´ La Seyne-sur-Mer en 96. Les void avec un second disque tout a fait re´ussi.

Le leader, Bob Nieske, a joue avec Jimmy Giuffre de qui il a acquis la purete´. C´est est un bassiste sobre, chantant et puissant, au gros son bien rond avec pourtant une grande sensibilite´ et une de´licate subtilite´. Un Charlie Haden en plus puissant it un peu plus lyrique. Il est aussi un excellent compositeur at un arrangeur somptueux sachant jouer des couleurs orchestrales comme par exemple dans "In a Sentimental Mood" ou il utilise des intervalles inusite´s qui cre´ent l'impression d'une section de anches comple´te alors qu'il n'y a que deux saxes.

Tous les morceaux sont des pi`eces d'atmosph`eres d'une beaute´ me´lodique flagrante et d'un grande richesse harmonique. Bob sait aussi marrier les rythmes comme dans "Current" (10) ou la basse joue en 5/4 tandis que la me´lodie est en 4/4 cre´ant un de´clalge enthousiasmant et pourtant d'une grande simplicite´apparente Ou comme dans "Grey" ou la basse joue un ostinato sur lequel Jon Damian, guitariste atypique, et le reste du groupe nous gratifient d`une belle prestation empreinte de nostalgic.

Tous les musiciens ont une personnalite´ forte qu'ils savent mettre l'atmosph`ere, l'arrangement, le tempo, et pourtant il y a unite' du groupe, parce que c'est une musique ecrite pour lui et que ces musiciens jouent ensemble depuis 5 ans. Ce qui fait de ce disque une oeuvre globale, fraiche et rejouissante dans une modernite' chantante et swinguante.

Bob avoue qu'il ne sait pas quelle est la question, ni quelle est la re'ponse, La' est toute la musique de Wolf Soup." Serge Baudot.1997