(Cincinnati, OH/Robert Sutton) A vibraphone is to Rusty Burge (http://www.rustyburge.com) as quill pens were to the Romantic poets. In other words, it is an extension of his soul, the bridge in which feelings and ideas cross from the imagination to the listener. On his latest album, Illumination, Burge continues his exploration of a vibraphone’s various moods and tones. However, Burge’s compositional skills are focused on melodies and not instrumental wizardry. The result is a record that is accessible both to jazz aficionados and the general public.
As a member of Percussion Group Cincinnati, Burge performed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, including the Japan World Drum Festival, the Chinese International Music Festival, and the Festival of Music in Portugal. In 1992, Burge joined the faculty of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; he currently teaches percussion and jazz vibraphone as well as leading the CCM Steel Band. Burge’s first album, Contrast, appeared in 2004. It was on "Contrast" wherein Burge began to investigate the creative possibilities of the vibraphone in a larger musical framework, utilizing it for classical and avant-garde compositions as well as a cover of Miles Davis.
Illumination could be viewed as a sequel, one that takes his experimentation with the vibraphone a step further. Saddled without a vocalist, the vibraphone itself becomes the singer, offering church-bell tunefulness on "Not Far" and crystalline notes on "Ithaca." The tinkling vibraphone of the opening title track reflects the shimmering light of its name. But it’s not just about the vibraphone, either. Mike Sharfe’s sultry bass line heightens the soulfulness of "Gotcha"; Steve Hoskins’ swirling soprano sax gives "Waltz for Tomorrow" a giddy lift; and Burge’s own piano on "A Dream" offers melancholic introspection.
Six years after the critically acclaimed Contrast, Burge has finally unleashed its next chapter.