All About Jazz review of Manic Moments by John Barron - Nov 2007
Based out of Durham, North Carolina, multi-talented musician Gary Brunotte draws on his years of experience as an organist and pianist to create Manic Moments, a unique blend of jazz that defies generic categorization. The disc encompasses moments of straight-ahead blowing, funky grooves and soulful Latin vibes to create an intriguing musical landscape.

Manic Moments succeeds at being original through Brunotte’s imaginative composing and arranging. Most notably the title track, an original up-tempo blues with a Blood, Sweat and Tears-type horn intro, and “Mas Que Nada,” the Jorge Ben Brazilian classic, featuring the Durham Children’s Choir.

While the primary focus of the disc is Brunotte’s organ playing, he also displays his prowess as a pianist (“You and the Night and the Music”), accordionist (“Sometime”) and vocalist (“Agua de Beber”). Regardless of instrument, his approach is aggressive and commanding, yet sensitive to the spontaneity of the other musicians. His organ solos move from ultra-greasy (“That's All”) to Larry Young-inspired intricacy (“Slightly Blue”).

Brunotte’s supporting cast is dynamic and versatile, adapting easily to the session’s many stylistic shifts. Rock-solid drummer Bill Berg propels each groove with intuitiveness and finesse. With tight comping and creative soloing, guitarist Scott Sawyer displays a thorough understanding of the organ trio genre. His well-developed solo on the title track is a stand-out of the session. Brunotte’s Chick Corea-inspired samba, “Chickish Tinge,” showcases the lucid blowing of Jim Ketch on flugelhorn, Glen Ingram on tenor saxophone and Gregg Gelb on alto saxophone. Other memorable moments include electric bassist Damon Brown’s bop-influenced solo on “Bridgemix” and acoustic bassist John Simonetti’s lyrical serenade on “Sometime.”

Manic Moments unravels into a comprehensive, well-conceived representation of an artist with a provocative vision. Brunotte’s music finds pleasure in its influence while pushing forward through broad-minded inspiration.

eJazzNews review by John Gilbert - December 6, 2007
This is a swinging straight ahead group that lopes along gracefully with a big musical stick in hand

"Mas Que Nada" Cool solo by Brunotte at the organ and the steady unruffled beat of drummer Bill Berg drives this tune like a Rolls Royce. I'm not going to get the jewelers loop out on this one, simply put "It grooves"

To listen to a no frills recording with solid musicians, you can't go wrong with this album.

4 Stars

Jazz Times review of Manic Moments by Forrest Dylan Bryant - March 2008
Featuring a trio, quartet and septet, organist Gary Brunotte’s fourth album shifts from cool Brazilian breezes to twitchy urban struts, and from haunting balladry to happy stomps. He switches instruments as well, supplementing his gleefully sneaky approach to the organ with gentle piano, tender accordion and some throaty vocal turns. The disc is unified by Brunotte’s sunny spirit: Whether he’s creeping stealthily across Jimmy Rowles’ "The Peacocks" or parading a children’s choir through "Mas Que Nada," his love of the material shines through. Manic Moments by Paul Youngman - January 2008
Gary Brunotte is primarily an organist, at least on the recording Manic Moments and he does an admirable job of keeping the album interesting through the use of his blues heavy organ styling. The CD features eleven tracks, five of them are Brunotte originals and one song “Mas Que Nada” a Jorge Ben composition is repeated, closing the recording with a short unplugged version of this Brazilian classic. The other songs on the album, originals and non-originals mix it up, adding a standard jazz flavour as in “You & The Night & The Music,” a funk groove for “Bridgemix” composed by Brunotte and the Jimmy Rowles tune, “The Peacocks” a melancholy ballad, that are all brought together by the rhythm section and especially drummer Bill Berg whose drumming, has an inspired Latin groove. The song “Agua De Beber” has the added feature of Brunotte vocalizing, a worthwhile effect that adds more diversity to the mix.

The title track "Manic Moments" a Brunotte original composition has a swinging feel to it, with excellent electric bass guitar lines by Damon Brown and great dynamics by drummer Bill Berg. A horn section is added giving the song a powerful edge, Glen Ingram takes the first solo on saxophone and proceeds to produce a flowing, calming interlude to this, at times, manic arrangement. Guitarist, Scott Sawyer chimes in with some well placed chords and breaks out to fire off single note runs, offset by sumptuous full chords. He slides up to lay down a set of rapid fire riffs in the higher register that build the song in intensity and opens the door for Gary Brunotte to provide a wailing organ solo that cries out with passion.

"You & The Night & The Music" features Gary Brunotte on piano in a trio setting. Brunotte has a lyrical, fluid style to his piano playing, there is an intensity present that reminds one of T.S. Monk in style. The song opens up to allow acoustic bassist John Simonetti and drummer Berg to play freely within the melody.

The song "Chickish Tinge" a Brunotte composition features horns once again, with Jim Ketch blowing a sweet sounding trumpet and Gregg Gelb on alto saxophone playing in a most melodic manner. The tenor saxophonist Glen Ingram plays as a man inspired as he takes it outside and gives the song a tinge of fire.

The original Brunotte composition "Sometime" has a beautiful melody and takes the path of a piano jazz trio with a guest accordionist, a part played by Gary Brunotte, a solid feature that adds a European influence. The song is waltz like, with a heartfelt melancholy groove and a broken heart feel. One of the most delightful songs on the album and typical of Manic Moments, an album of exploration of styles in composition, that is somewhat manic in its diversification.

The final song of the album Manic Moments, a fitting conclusion and sticking to the theme, finds Brunotte singing "Mas Que Nada," he is joined by a wonderful, angelic sounding choir, credited as the Durham Children’s Choir, directed by Scott Hill, a short but touching finale to an interesting album.

Raleigh News and Observer review by Owen Cordle - October 2007
Despite the title, keyboard player Gary Brunotte's "Manic Moments" (Sincopato Records) is a rather pleasant affair with Latin grooves, swing and jazz-rock dominating the rhythms. Brunotte, a Minnesota native who has lived in Durham for the past decade, sticks mostly to organ, and the majority of the tracks are with a trio that includes Raleigh guitarist Scott Sawyer and drummer Bill Berg. Three tracks include a horn section with Triangle musicians Jim Ketch (trumpet), Gregg Gelb (alto saxophone) and Glen Ingram (tenor saxophone).

On the title cut, astringent harmony in the horns announces a short, astringent organ line followed by tenor saxophone, guitar and organ solos. Sawyer's solo, initially unaccompanied, is full of catchy jabs and melodic fragments. The track has a snaky, Weather Report feel.

Performances such as "Mas Que Nada" (the opening track), "Agua De Beber" and "That's All" contain an attractive trio sound and short, melodic solos. The group eschews the classic, funky, Jimmy Smith organ trio approach in favor of more subtle grooves and a more romantic mood. Acoustic bassist John Simonetti, who joins the trio on "You and the Night and the Music" and Brunotte's Bill Evans-flavored "Sometime" offers fine, percussive solo work on both. Electric bassist Damon Brown, who appears on the horn tracks and Brunotte's "Slightly Blued," adds a tight, funky drive to the rhythm. Berg proves a crisp, tasteful drummer throughout the session.

The final track is a brief repeat of "Mas Que Nada," this time with the Durham Children's Choir and Brunotte singing the melody.

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