Greg Ruggiero’s quintet makes a mixture of lounge jazz, soft-pop, and post-bop for their latest release Balance. Produced by Greg Ruggiero, the album is archetypal of what most people deem as popular jazz music. The songs have impressions that are shrouded in jazz histrionics and resound of classic gongs. In this way, the album is commercial sounding in its appeal and exudes a comfortable feel as being music which many people may feel a familiarity to and instantly recognize it from the recesses of their psyche. It may not be music that people can pin down to where they have heard it before, but it is music that they know of and have heard some place before. The tracks have a likeness to the backdrop music played on the TV Guide channel or in shops and restaurants. The music will give you a sense of being at home or being in an environment that is comfortable and friendly for you.
The lounge jazz textures of "Answer" and "This Life" are warm and the soft acoustic guitar intro of the latter sulks tenderly as the melody builds into harmonious layers and the saxophone tubing chimes in with a gentle spritz. The quintet enjoys creating rainfalls with their instruments and interlacing the streams. The mellow piano keys of "Losing Battle" are quilted into the lounging rhythm sections, and the developing phrases in the title track begin with gently bowed guitar sprawls that are layered by looping piano purrs and wispy saxophone puffs. The somber tones of "Way Out West’ project a sparse landscape, while the slowly blossoming piano patterns are embellished by bright saxophone lines tossing about and doing a little grandstanding. The smooth rhythmic series of "Ethereal" and "My Better Half" are meditative and have a homey feel.
Jazz music for the home is one way to interpret Greg Ruggiero’s compositions. Balance is charming and recalls of the sweet aroma of many smooth jazz and post-bop performers. Ruggiero’s quintet has a lot going for them. The album fits the lounge jazz criteria putting smooth jazz regalia into the pot and blurring the line between classic and contemporary jazz.