Saturday, October 15, 2011


Ali Ryerson credits the loving support from her tightly-knit, musically gifted family for helping her grow into a well-established jazz flutist who is celebrating two giant career boosts. The first for the Candlewood Lake resident is her new, bold album, Con Brio!, which marks her first release of a self-produced CD after recording nearly two dozen albums on such famous labels as Concord and the legendary jazz producer Bob Thiele's Red Baron. In another dramatic first for the 58-year-old flutist, Con Brio!, which is the musical term meaning "with vigor," is seasoned with a contemporary electric edge, a taste of funk and cool, synth smooth textures, ingredients never before relied on in her modern mainstream jazz palette.

Ryerson's all-star collaborators are: keyboardist arranger Pete Levin, a Moog synthesizer pioneer celebrated for his collaborations with the illustrious composer/arranger Gil Evans; guitarist/composer Mike DeMicco, the long-time guitarist with Connecticut's Brubeck Brothers Band; and bassist Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gottlieb, members of the original rhythm section for the Pat Metheny Group. Also on board, noted vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, leader of the groundbreaking jazz/fusion group of the 1970s, Steps Ahead. "I love my previous recordings," Ryerson says by phone from her Brookfield home, "but I thought I had to do something different now by making an album with a concept as opposed to another compilation of jazz tunes and bossa novas, or an album of all standards.

"And I wanted to introduce the electric side of jazz to my music with electric piano, electric bass and some synthesizer, which led me to a collaboration with my old friend Pete Levin, who co-produced the CD with me." The higher wattage doesn't compromise the flutist's lifelong ideals of swing, melodic invention and a classical sense of balance and sharp self-editing. What also remains constant are the warm, full-bodied tones, fluid, sensuous lines and her perpetual ease with whatever groove she happens to be improvising in. Most important, Ryerson herself feels her independently produced recording project is, after a career of nearly four decades, a true reflection of who she is at this point in her life.

"My friend Holly Hoffman, the jazz flutist, told me, 'Ali, the CD sounds so good and absolutely genuine. This is the real you,' I agree totally with that," says Ryerson who has always been her most demanding critic. Big boost number two comes as a happy side-effect to the Con Brio! CD, and brings a whole new role to her life as a designer of a new line of flutes bearing her signature. Ryerson has been asked by Gemeinhardt Musical Instrument company to help design an Ali Ryerson signature flute under its Brio! line, hence the CD's title, Con Brio!  Since last winter when the agreement was sealed, she's made several trips to the company's headquarters in Elkhart, Ind., making suggestions to technicians about the instrument's tone, feel and even the aesthetics of the way it looks.

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