Reality is Nuance
  • Doug Weiss
    Doug Weiss
  • Rudy Royston
    Rudy Royston
  • Albert Vila
    Albert Vila

Albert Vila

Reality is Nuance

Fresh Sound New Talent

Albert Vila (g), Doug Weiss (b), Rudy Royston (d)

Reference: FSNT-662

Bar code: 8427328436625

“Reality is nuance.” Perceiving all the small subtleties of what surrounds us gives us a deeper personal connection with the world, perhaps even defines us as human individuals. Albert's approach to music embraces the intrinsic complexity of nuance as much as it does the need to create simple, evocative melodies.

Until now, Albert has largely recorded and performed original material in larger settings such as quartets or quintets. This time, he wanted to explore his compositional and interpretive skills in a smaller ensemble, and here he is backed by the great double bassist Doug Weiss and the fantastic drummer Rudy Royston. The guitar trio setting can be minimalist, delicate, even a challenging format, especially on an hour-long album. However, Weiss and Royston do an excellent job of mixing styles, textures and capturing a broad tonal palette, and it is the trio playing as a whole that succeeds here.

For a soulful and thoughtful artist like Albert, creating a consistent language was a very personal quest. As Albert explains, “I was truly inspired by the use of polyphony displayed by some classical and jazz pianists, and I wanted to bring some of that universe to the trio guitar form.”

Reality is Nuance marks Albert's seventh album as a leader, and it unequivocally brings his new trio to a zone in which everything coheres as a single unit.

01. Hope (Albert Vila) 6:20
02. Blue (Albert Vila) 8:19
03. Northern Flower (Albert Vila) 7:59
04. Healing (Albert Vila) 7:58
05. The Loner (Albert Vila) 4:08
06. 215 (Albert Vila) 1:20
07. 216 (Albert Vila) 5:16
08. Ancient Kingdom (Albert Vila) 7:48
09. April (Raye-DePaul-Johnston, adapt. by Albert Vila) 6:03

Album details

All songs composed by Albert Vila, except #9 based on "I'll Remember April"
by Don Raye-Gene DePaul-Patricia Johnston

Albert Vila Trio:
Albert Vila (guitar), Doug Weiss (bass), Rudy Royston (drums).
Recorded at Jet Studio, Brussels, Belgium, November 13 & 14, 2022

Sound engineer: Rudy Coclet
Mixed by Vincent De Bast
Mastered by Pieter De Wagter
Cover art: Beto Val
Pictures by Bernal Revert

Produced by Albert Vila
Executive Producer: Jordi Pujol

This sound recording © 2023 by Fresh Sound Records
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas, S.L.

Press reviews

"Après son remarqué “The Unquiet Sky” (2016) avec Jeff Ballard (dm), Aaron Parks (p),
Doug Weiss (b) et récemment son audacieux album solo “Levity” (à écouter sa version
d’Eleanor Rigby et du River Man de Nick Drake) le guitariste espagnol installé en Belgique
Albert Vila continue de ravir avec “Reality Is A Nuance” **** en trio avec le fidèle Doug
Weiss et le superbe batteur Rudy Royston (Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell) pour un jazz
chambriste autour de huit compositions sur lesquelles l’interaction polyphonique des trois
comparses conjure de captivants paysages pastels et impressionnistes."

—Pierrick Favennec (May, 2024)
Jazz Magazine

"Notwithstanding a sojourn at the Manhattan School of Music, Albert Vila is better known
in European jazz circles than in the U.S.A.. A native of Barcelona, Vila does his touring in
Europe but the appeal of his playing is much broader. If there ever was a jazz guitarist
"deserving of wider recognition" in US circles, it is Vila. Despite his profoundly Iberian
touch (listening to him is a bit like listening to the renowned classical guitarist Narciso
Yepes) his current bandmates are American, bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Rudy
Royston. They are a sympathetic group in every way and the results are most intriguing.
It is cliché to call music a universal language, but after listening to Vila, it is difficult to
think of how else to describe his work.

For some, his solo recording Levity ( Hypnote Records, 2023) was an introduction,
recorded at the height of the Covid pandemic, and a revelation, reprising everything from
"Eleanor Rigby" to "Everything Happens to Me." It makes compelling listening, perhaps
even more so than his current recording, Reality is Nuance. This is his seventh recording.
It is beautiful, technically ambitious and very good listening, although there are moments
when its direction is difficult to discern. The technique of hybrid picking, or something
akin to it, unique to Vila, may not be associated with jazz guitar; the guitarist himself
says sometimes it works and sometimes it does not, but he employs it to great
advantage here. Vila is so adept that a first impression is this is overdubbed, but there is
only one guitar. Weiss and Royston support him very well, creatively really, as if Vila is
sometimes only suggesting a line, leaving it to them to shape and complete it. To
paraphrase Vila, sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.

The opening track is "Hope;" Vila opens introspectively and freely. He then introduces the
theme with a repeated tonic. Polyrhythms follow, and then, a sudden stop. "Blue" follows
a similar pattern, with Royston shaping the line and Weiss following up. The tune is
creative and simple, but nevertheless goes in unexpected directions. Vila uses funky
repeated figures and engages in spirited conversation with Weiss. He ends with a melody
which recalls Johnny Mandel's theme from "Mash." "Northern Flower" is upbeat; it tells a
story which is remarkably coherent at nearly eight minutes. "Healing" is a straight blues
over a vamp. "216" (there is a "215" as well) sounds like an Andalucian cadence turning
flamenco as it goes into the bridge. "Ancient Kingdom" is primarily a solo vehicle for
bassist Weiss.

There is clearly a lot going on with the music and in the band. Sometimes Vila seems
prone to lean on certain characteristic patterns and figures: but not on "April." There is
no lack of ideas or imagination here. The sophistication of the rhythm section is no small
thing because Vila's compositions (and spontaneity) are challenging. One waits to see
what other grateful surprises Albert Vila has up his sleeve."

Richard J. Salvucci (April 8, 2024)

"Reality Is Nuance features nine tracks from jazz guitarist Albert Vila and his trio. The trio is completed by bassist Doug Weiss, who has performed with jazz legends such as singers Joe Williams and Lizz Wright, and drummer Rudy Royston, who has performed with the late great Les McCann, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and The Mingus Big Band to name just a few. Vila is from Barcelona, Spain where he began his musical studies. He has traveled around the world gaining recognition while teaching and studying with prominent musicians.

On "Hope," the interplay between the rhythm section and Vila's eclectic style playing is outstanding. "Blue" opens with a melancholy tone as the acoustic guitar shifts chords. The rhythm sections comes in nicely. "Northern Flower" opens with middle eastern harmonies from Vila; throughout from the rhythm section playing is electric and vibrant. "The Loner" has a smooth jazz guitar rhythm and features Royston. "215:" Vila serenades with a smooth, mellow acoustic guitar solo. "216:" the rhythm sections opens softly followed by Vila romanticizing in his solo. "Ancient Kingdom" has a medium tempo with Vila performing lyrically. Royston's drum accents are superb. "April" has smooth improvisations of drum hats and brushes from Royston and bass guitar harmonics from Weiss over a smooth guitar melody by Vila."

La-Faithia White (January 21, 2024)

"We at are very committed to the spotlighting of guitar talent
“needing wider recognition”, as the saying goes. And as such, it would make sense that
we have reviewed a lot of Albert Vila’s CD releases here. It isn’t just because of his
virtuoso technique which he always uses in such tasteful and musical ways, but because
THE MUSIC ITSELF is so good. With his trio that includes Doug Weiss on bass and Rudy
Royston on drums, “Reality Is Nuance” shows you his latest musical comments on what
can be done with with 12 notes, wood and wire, and great musical comrades in arms.

“Hope” begins with Alberts’ guitar on its’ own in an expanded tonality setting that swirls
from key center to key center, calling to mind the solo guitar work of people like Pat
Metheny, Julian Lage, and Jimmy Wyble. He then begins a rhythmic theme that calls the
trio to join him into stating the melody, with Royston’s drums overflowing everywhere, in
the tradition of the best of the ECM drummers like Jack DeJohnette.

Albert’s complete command of the harmony as he goes into his solo in “Hope” is virtually
state of the art: he seamlessly shifts from single notes to chord stabs always outlining
the new harmony as it emerges, with contrapuntal lines constantly showing up, almost
making you think that two guitarists are playing rather than one. Like with all masters, it
sounds effortless and makes you think about the music and not what it takes to do it.

Also his guitar sound is what most jazz guitarists’ are always striving for: a great big
ringing note with just enough reverb and echo to help them last, and a very intimate
acoustic “woody” tone that makes you feel like your head is right inside his speaker.

The second track “Blue” begins with an wide interval solo guitar intro that is an expanded
look at the harmony of the coming tune, which flows to the pulsating groove that
underpins it throughout. The song maintains the “blue” mood that the title suggests, but
is not at all a simple 12 bar form. After Vila’s ultra-hip solo, Doug Weiss plays a solo that
shows why he was chosen as the bassist for the trio. Not someone whose understanding
of harmony is restricted to the root and 5th like some bassists, his solo is melodic but
always keeps the tunes’ changes heard throughout.

“Northern Flower” begins with a undulating guitar arpeggio-like pattern that uses a lot of
open strings so that there is always something ringing – to the point that I had to go
back and listen at first to make sure that there weren’t two guitars. The melody is
another of Albert’s contrapuntal affairs that is the perfect sort of thing to write for a
guitar trio that makes it seem more like a quartet. He constantly keeps the open strings
entering in and out as he plays, muting strings occasionally to add to the sonic variety.
Villa’s playing on this track really reminded me of Pat Metheny’s playing on “Omaha
Celebration” or “Broadway Blues” from his break out album “Bright Size Life”, it’s just
constantly bubbling excitement and motion, with Royston’s toms and side stick snare
always stirring the pot as they go.

A tour-de-force of all there is to know about writing and playing a solo guitar piece, “215”
incorporates all of the bag of tricks that a guitarist can use to both keep things musically
interesting and have notes last as long as possible. Open strings, hammer ons, pull offs,
and everything else you can think of that makes a guitar one of the most expressive
instruments there is are combined constantly in this captivating piece – I can’t say
enough about this, so I will just stop there and let you hear it for yourself.

My vote for what should go to jazz radio from this set is “The Loner”, a minor melodic
groover throughout. As soon as the catchy melody is stated, Albert brings the band’s
energy down to begin his solo, where he is always adding guide tone notes underneath to
outline the harmony. The solo continues to build with the constant fire of Rudy’s drums
until the melody is stated again to its’ concise finish.

The hypnotic melody of “Ancient Kingdom” is built around a 2&4 drum pattern, and
features another great solo from bassist Weiss, with Albert’s own solo drawing on a lot of
dramatic wide intervals – a very cool and impressive track throughout.

“216”’s haunting melody is a ballad that features Rudy’s sensitive brushwork, and Villa’s
fingers literally fly though his solo. A band affair as opposed to the previous solo track
“215”, the murky melody leads to an ever expanding solo until it’s restated at the end.

Doug Weiss’ melodic bass intro over Vila’s arpeggiated chord pattern open up “April”, with
it’s melody calling to mind the famous jazz standard “I’ll Remember April”. Then just
when you think it’s over, as a really nice and unexpected touch the track ends with the
trio doing a childlike melodic “round” between all three instruments.

The bass handles the melodic tasks in the intro of the closing track “Healing”, leading to a
staccato melody that calls to mind Beatles tunes like “Dear Prudence”. The staccato
guitar pattern is put through what I have to assume is a “looper” pedal and then Vila
solos and fills around that. (Albert actually told me later that there is no looper, it’s him
doing both things at the same time, so it didn’t surprise me when he said that it took him
a while to figure out how to play both parts.)

The track goes back and forth from Albert’s soloing to the staccato pattern, and then a
whole new surprise section emerges with the “least dense” soloing from him. Then it’s
back to the pattern which finally leads to “the big out chord”.

In short, I would highly recommend this record to any jazz guitarist for the yardstick to
hold their own playing up to. There’s not much that can be done in this format that’s any
better than what Albert Vila and his trio does in “Reality Is Nuance”, and this is pretty
much the state of the art as far as a jazz guitar trio record goes. Using the definition of
the word to be “expression or appreciation of subtle shades of meaning, feeling, or tone”
then “Nuance” would be an understatement in describing this excellent record."

—Doug Perkins (October 12, 2023)


10,95 €  (tax incl.)

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