“ReBop” Gabwalk Records 0801
ReBop review

Minneapolis-based guitarist/educator Paul Renz gets a surprisingly fat, hollow-body tone out of his Fender Stratocaster. Although the instrument may seem like an unlikely choice for a guitarist performing mainstream jazz, Renz is able to coax a tone that is serene and warm. For ReBop the Strat-wielding Renz teams up with flautist Anders Bostrom, pianist Brian Ziemniak, bassist Eric Graham and drummer Nathan Fryett.

With the exception of Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco,” the disc consists of Renz’s lively and lyrical original compositions. The guitarist emphasizes juicy harmonic progressions, flowing melodies and tight, toe-tapping grooves. The easy street tempo of the title track serves as a bebop-friendly warm-up for soloists Renz, Bostrom and Ziemniak. The swing-meets-fusion vibe on “Un Poco Loco” and “Sloppy Joe” has a hip edginess that will appeal to casual listeners and enthusiasts alike. Renz’s strongest writing comes out toward the end of the disc with the lush ballad “Farewell HP” and the rocked-out “Dish It Up.” The latter showcases the session’s most inventive improvising, courtesy of the leader’s distorted, untamed lines.

Bassist Graham lays down a solid electric bass foundation with groovy walking lines and low-down funk vamps. Utilizing a crisp, bridge pickup tone, Graham is impressive, rattling off Jaco Pastorius-inspired licks on “Sambatude.” Drummer Fryett keeps things moving, shifting styles gracefully with a welcome dynamic sense.

-John Barron,, November 12, 2008

“ReBop” Gabwalk Records 0801

LA Jazz Scene
ReBop review

An educator from Minneapolis, Paul Renz is a remarkable guitarist and composer. He has developed a distinctive sound on guitar and on ReBop is featured with a stellar quintet comprised of flutist Anders Bostrom (an old friend of Renz’s who he had not seen in twenty years), organist Brian Ziemniak (doubling on piano), bassist Eric Graham and drummer Nathan Fryett.

Renz contributed six superbly crafted pieces that give the group its own sound. His guitar is constantly weaving in and out, creating a wide range of tones and textures, often incredibly subtle, other times belting it out. Bostrom sizzles. The organ alternately burns and complements Renz, the ensemble has some unusual and evocative tone colors, and the music is unpredictable even when it is swinging hard. Renz deconstructed Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco” so it sounds like a new tune.

Listening to the music, it is difficult not to be impressed by Renz’s writing, the way he interacts with Bostrom and the sound and style of Ziemniak on organ. The results are quite intriguing and enjoyable.

-Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene, August 2008

“ReBop” Gabwalk Records 0801

City Pages
ReBop review

For his sixth album, ReBop (Gabwalk), local jazz guitarist, composer, and educator Paul Renz recruited his former Berklee classmate Anders Bostrom, whose sly, insinuating flute work has been heard with the likes of McCoy Tyner, Gary Burton, and Chick Corea. The tasty combination of Renz’s fluid electric guitar (reminiscent of Wes Montgomery on the way to Pat Metheny with a little Bill Frisell thrown in), Bostrom’s flute, and Brian Ziemniak’s bubbling Hammond organ results in breezy bop laced with blues, Latin tinges, and hints of pop and funk. Except for a lithe, glowing arrangement of Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco,” all of ReBop’s compositions are originals, ranging from the playful, swirling funk of “Sloppy Joe” and the scintillating, carnival-flavored “Sambatude” to “Farewell HP,” a quiet, elegant tribute to Renz mentor Herb Pomeroy. Renz’s compositions and fretwork alike exult in unveiling intriguing melodic and rhythmic angles with insouciant charm, knocking out listeners with subtle firepower hidden in a splendid vocabulary of feints and finesse. Bostrom will be on hand as Renz marks ReBop’s release at the Dakota, along with Ziemniak and the dynamic rhythm section of bassist Eric Graham and drummer Nathan Fryett.

 -Rick Mason, City Pages, May, 2008

“ReBop” Gabwalk Records 0801
ReBop review

If Twin Cities guitarist Paul Renz went Beyond Blues on his last release, his new ReBop takes us well beyond bop, revisiting, reimagining, running circles around it. Again, Renz produces an eclectic set of largely original fare, moving from bop to funk, from blues to fusion and even a side trip to Brazil, again with his core rhythm team of Brian Ziemniak (Hammond B-3 and piano), Eric Graham (bass), and Nathan Fryett (drums). This time he brings on board master flautist Anders Bostrom from New Jersey, creating a distinctly different harmonic blend. All will be on hand on Saturday, May 31st to celebrate the release of ReBop (Gabwalk Records) at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis.

A native of Washington, DC, Paul Renz earned degrees from the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. His academic resume includes developing jazz curriculum at an arts magnet high school in Norfolk, VA and teaching jazz at Tidewater Community College before coming to Minneapolis in 1994 to direct jazz studies at the West Bank School of Music. He’s also resident guitar instructor at the MacPhail Center for Music. Renz wasted no time becoming an integral part of the Twin Cities jazz scene in the mid 90s, continuing his roles as composer and bandleader as well as performer on guitar and electric bass. His five previous recordings earned such accolades as “neatly balancing taut and tuneful charts with spontaneous solos” (Tom Surowicz re Everlasting), “a challenging guitarist who keeps the pot boiling” (Frank Robolino re Dish It Up), “impressive compositional and instrumental chops” (Dan Emerson re Hubbub), and “serious fun for everyone” (Jim Meyer re Beyond Blues).

Renz’ core musicians are all busy contributors to the local music scene. Keyboard master Brian Ziemniak holds a degree in Industrial Engineering, studied jazz piano with Adi Yeshaya, Kenny Werner, Uri Caine, Vijay Iyer and Andy Milne, and performs with a long list of area bands including Moveable Feast, Yohannes Tona, and Blowzone. Bassist Eric Graham has taught throughout the Midwest including Winona State and Century College, studied Hindustani music, and plays regularly with the John Paulson Quartet. Drummer Nathan Fryett plays with such diverse bands as 13 Hertz, The State Champs, Sketch Engine, and The Sweet Science. The addition of Anders Bostrom on ReBop reunites Renz with his Berklee College classmate. Originally from Nykvara, Sweden, Bostrom now lives in New Jersey, playing for Broadway productions and recording or touring with such giants as McCoy Tyner, Giovanni Hidalgo and Gary Burton.

ReBop features six original compositions from Paul Renz and a dazzling reworking of Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco,” all tracks arranged by Renz. One piece, the closing “Dish It Up,” previously appeared as the title track on one of Renz’s early releases.

The title track starts the set on its most boppish notes, a melody and progression that is filled with the artistry of Charlie Parker but the flute gives it a unique quality. Bostrom displays the masterful phrasing and tone that carries through the set, and Brian Z swings hard with a clarity of articulation that seems rare on the B-3. The timbre of flute and guitar are sufficiently close to suggest a blending of horns. From the first track, it’s clear that Renz and Bostrom were meant to play together. Latin tinges Renz’s arrangement of “Un Poco Loco,” with a more acoustic sound from Renz, while again the blend of flute and guitar, against the B-3 backdrop, creates majestic harmonies. Ziemniak gets his chance to cut loose, and Renz returns the favor. Bass and drums offer subtle drive and direction throughout.

“Sloppy Joe” has a more Metheny-esque feel, more funky with some nifty drum breaks from Fryett and low growls from the B-3. Bostrom creates some eerie flutters, while guitar and flute weave their lines together. I had previously only heard Brian Z on acoustic piano—he’s a killer on organ. “Sambatude” has more attitude than samba! A grooving funk arrangement, Bostrom indeed flies us down to Rio at a fast pace, while Renz’s buzzy effects give the track a large dose of urban frenzy. “Farewell HP” is Renz’s tribute to former teacher, the late Herb Pomeroy. This magical ballad finds Ziemniak on acoustic piano, although electronic effects are close at hand thanks to Renz. Even Bostrom evokes a plugged-in flute, with a hollow reverb and a bit of shimmy. The track soars with a reverent melancholy.

The final two tracks bring together more fusion elements. “Ayo’s Hat” is a rocking delight, the B-3 moving in tandem with flute, Bostrom creating a sense of multiple reed tracks. Bassist Graham contributes some substantial growls, and Ziemniak shines again as organ grinder. Each member of the ensemble helps to “Dish It Up,” a funky and high energy finale. It’s not a long set (under 50 minutes) but it is long on soulful harmonies and tight ensemble interactions, a perfect resume of the diverse compositional chops of one of the area’s most accomplished guitarists. Go “un poco loco” this Saturday night at the celebration of the release of ReBop, sure to be on the short list of best area recordings for 2008. The Paul Renz Quintet with Anders Bostrom performs at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday, May 31st, 7 pm.

-Andrea Carter,, May 2008