Circle Wide

Round'bout Now

Like Before, Somewhat After

Listen Both Ways

Upcoming gigs


George Schuller's Circle Wide

Celebrating The Release of Listen Both Ways on Playscape Recordings



Peter Apfelbaum - saxophones

Brad Shepik - guitar

Tom Beckham - vibes

Dave Ambrosio - bass

George Schuller - drums





A few images from recent performances at the Rochester International Jazz Festival (left) and Cornelia St. Cafe (top right & bottom right).


(photos by Paul Grigsby and Scott Friedlander)


Here's a band...
...that doesn't play the straightened arrow as much as it teases it. Laying off the usual trappings that make up a typical jazz group, George Schuller's Circle Wide "breathes new fire with a cool edge and plenty of daring to create modern jazz which at times leans towards the left of the musical spectrum yet, in many instances 'swings-hard' and skirts the fringes of post-modern bop." Circle Wide features the front line talents of saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum and guitarist Brad Shepik, along with vibist Tom Beckham, bassist Dave Ambrosio, and drummer/leader George Schuller.

As with Orange Then Blue and the Schulldogs, Schuller has fashioned another quirky vehicle for his compositions and arrangements, focusing on the challenges of a small group dynamic with fresh takes on the tenor/guitar front line of saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum and guitarist Brad Shepik, backed up by original members vibraphonist Tom Beckham and bassist Dave Ambrosio. Formed in 1999, Circle Wide has been combing the downtown NY club terrain for several years only to emerge as a forceful musical entity propelling loose-limbed future bop into the new millenium. In the last several years, Circle Wide has appeared at major festivals and venues in and around the US and Europe.

In 2003, Circle Wide recorded its debut on the Playscape Recording label, documenting what AllAboutJazz/NYC calls their "rigorous, unpredictable approach to group improvisation." Entitled Round'bout Now, the release pays tribute to Miles Davis' pre-fusion transitional period, as documented on records like Circle in the Round, Filles de Kilimanjaro, Water Babies and In A Silent Way. As in his other groups, Schuller's inclusive compositions and arrangements provide the ideal framework for the improvisational abilities of his talented collaborators. Along with the regular members of the quartet, the CD includes former Circle Wide member/trumpeter Ingrid Jensen plus special guests Pete McCann on guitar, Matt Darriau on kaval & bass clarinet, and Sonny Barbato on accordian.

Three years later, Circle Wide returned to the studio for a second release on Playscape called Like Before, Somewhat After (released May 2008). With former member Donny McCaslin, and current members Beckham, Shepik, Ambrosio all on hand augmented by special guest percussionist Jamey Haddad, Schuller, this time, explores the rich and edgy mysticism of Keith Jarrett's American Quartet of the early 70s. Like Before will be a kind of re-evaluation of those heady, raw days when no musical stone was left unturned. Such pieces as Survivors Suite, Rotation, Common Mama, and De Drums are given fresh spins offered up along side a couple of other twists & turns penned by composer/arranger Schuller.

Now, Circle Wide is proud to release its third studio recording for Playscape, Listen Both Ways this time featuring multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum (reeds) along with returning mess. Shepik, Beckham and Ambrosio. "Whereas the first two releases were tributes inspired by the music of Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett,” Schuller explains in the liner notes. “This time, I’ve decided to let my hair down and contribute most of the compositions to further explore the broad range and colors of the individuals in my group.” Six of the eight tracks here are original pieces while the other two are Carla Bley’s Jesus Maria, first recorded by the Jimmy Giuffre 3, and a piece by composer/lyricist Margo Guryan called Edwin, which was composed in 1960 at The School of Jazz in Lenox and dedicated to George's older brother.

Circle Wide bandmember's collective associations include Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Herb Robertson, Paul Motian, George Garzone, Charlie Haden, Dave Douglas, George Adams, Josh Roseman, Dafnis Pietro, Karl Berger, Adam Rudolph, Hieroglyphics, Armen Donelian, Joseph Jarman, Matt Darriau, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jaki Byard, Mario Pavone, Michael Musillami, Burton Greene, Tim Berne, among many others.

[For further information on CD's by Circle Wide, please check out Playscape Recordings]

[To buy CD's by Circle Wide, please visit CD Baby.]


"The artists formerly known as “Chump Change” now go by the provisional “Chumps No More.” But drummer George Schuller and his quintet (trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, guitarist Pete McCann, vibist Tom Beckham, bassist Dave Ambrosio) haven’t changed their rigorous, unpredictable approach to group improvisation. At the 55 Bar they played music by Schuller, Beckham, and even Keith Jarrett. What the band does especially well is pair off instruments, as on the bass/vibes duo that ends Beckham’s “In Flight” or the fluegelhorn/bass interlude that breaks up the open-swinging “Vat 19." Everyone played beautifully, but a special nod goes to McCann, a sound sculptor and single-note poet of the first order."

--- AllAboutJazz/NYC

"Schuller's compositions create an effective balance between form and freedom; his melodic sense is firmly rooted in the post-Ornette vocabulary, and his rhythmic conception is finely connected to the time/space continuum. As a drummer, Schuller propels, swings hard and has the rare ability to conjure form out of seeming chaos."

---The Tuscon Weekly

"Schuller's charts provide fruitful frameworks for the improvising, with loose-limbed harmonic lines and purposeful rhythmic foundations underpinning free-wheeling melodic parts from the horns."

---JazzReview (Great Britain)

For US & Canadian bookings, please contact: George Schuller at (718) 854-6727 or email: schulldog@pipeline.com

For European bookings, please contact: Andreas Scherrer at (212) 281-9785 or email: company-of-heaven@liwest.at

Please visit Company of Heaven website: http://www.companyofheaven.com/