Ro is truly, as the promo material shouts, a great eclectic mix of straight-ahead, Indian, and modern jazz that ranges from hard-swinging post-bop to free jazz tinged with colors of North Indian classical music. The use of such a variety of time signatures just adds a marvelous hue to the already bright album. It’s everything from a purist’s dream (e.g., "Triggered") to a curious world/free/modern jazz enthusiast’s gift (e.g. "Little Hands" featuring Russo on banjo in a way that causes one to assume that he’s playing an exotic Indian instrument).
More than a few tunes speak directly to the artist’s grasp of the intricacies of straight-ahead and modern jazz alike, as well as to his deep sense of different while not being befuddling or self-absorbed.
Russo’s resume is as impressive as his material, having worked with the great Jimmy McGriff, Vince Giordano & The Night Hawks, Sonny Dallas, and countless others. To me, one of the most noteworthy elements of his bio is that he’s passionate about introducing jazz to young people. As a result, he teaches privately and brings jazz programs to schools, libraries, and other venues where he can introduce basic jazz concepts and demonstrate the influence of this great art form on American music. Another major feat is his publication of transcribed guitar licks from.... Metallica. Here’s a man, having also studied with such giants as Christian McBride and Bill Frisell, who commands some serious artistic respect. His material here on Ro is just further evidence of his prowess.