Born: October 17, 1976 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Gary Tu is a talented young jazz guitarist, whose style reminds one of a Wes Montgomery (sans the octave doubling) with just a dash of Metheny. On Look East, the artist displays his guitar, composition and arrangement talents in a trio setting with drummer Andre Beasley and Bassist Kurt Schweitz - and it is a quite engaging set that is the end result.
Intriguingly divided into a first half of original tunes and a second half of jazz classics, Look East allows plenty of opportunity for Tu to display his graceful, mostly-uneffected single string charms. The opening title track is enhanced by the guitarists wind chime harmonics and robust riffing over a sure-footed rhythm section. Bassist Schweitz adds a harmonious solo here and is a consistent counterpoint to Tu throughout the recording.
I'll admit to somewhat glossing over The Cube the first couple of times through, but upon repeated listening this original tune has won me over with its toughness and tight changes and it is now one of my favorites. If there is a hit single on the album it is subsequent The Road to the Sky where Tu adds in some tasteful effects, soloing over a catchy pop/jazz progression. Sun Rise, on the other hand, is a sunny piece where Tu shows his skills in a bossa setting; while Passing Solitude” is an exemplary example of quietude and economy in playing.
In a clever twist, the second half of Look East is filled with jazz classics that were not originally guitar-based tunes. An up-tempo, somewhat Brazilian version of Steve Swallow's Falling Grace, and Sonny Rollins' beloved Airegin are both presented in wonderful guitar-centric arrangements - the former again embellished with Tu's sparkling chimes, the latter in a delightfully hot session that may be the highlight of the album. Finally, the Frank Foster waltzing standard Simone is caressed beautifully, before Tu and the band (especially drummer Beasley) go out in high style with an ecstatic version of Miles Davis' Milestones.
A clever and pleasing guitarist, Tu is a nice change up from an atmosphere filled with guitarists who want to be the next Al Dimeola. He obviously realizes that good tunes and good playing are a nice combination to strive for, and he succeeds quite well in this first solo venture. Look East is a worthy addition to your jazz collection, as well as leading one to keep a watch on this artist as his career progresses. - jazzchicago.net
Gary Tu has a more traditional Jazz guitar sound on [Look East]. With a solid and unobtrusive bass and drum accompaniment, Tu works through 5 originals before he gets to a very fresh and clever selection of covers. He has a clear, crisp tone, without any fusion or rock effects, and he's a fine one-note picker, adept at finding new melodies. And he swings. While he likes to use harmonics, they are very tasteful and never overdone. Covering Rollins' Airegin is clever, and he does it without bringing to mind Jim Hall. And there is a pretty take on Steve Swallow's Falling grace. Largely Tu stays away from tunes that were originally guitar based, which makes the collection fun. On a programming note, it might have been better overall if he had mixed his own compositions in with the standards. But [Look East] is a solid Jazz guitar recording. -Cadence Magazine
2 out of 3 stars! -Jazzwise Magazine UK
There’s no denying Gary Tu is a talented jazz guitarist, and when joined by a bassist and drummer for the nine cuts of Look East, the trio offers a pleasant listening experience. -Illinois Entertainer
...Be confident at your craft and make creating good music your goal. Gary Tu has done both. He plays guitar with the confidence and skill of guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian and he has created a beautiful body of work, Look East. -ABYSSJazzMagazine
Tu's 2006 CD, Look East is a very cool instrumental jazz guitar album in the finest spirit of guitar greats like Pat Metheny, Mike Stern and Bill Frisell...Tu turns in a timeless guitar performance that ably combines mood and technique and some splendid improvisation. -20TH CENTURY GUITAR
2005 Rochester International Jazz Festival with Pete Carney & Orange Alert. 2006 Jazz In The Park Milwaukee with Pete Carney & Orange Alert. 2006 Chicago Asian-American Jazz Festival with The Gary Tu Trio. 2007 Jazz Aberdeen with Pete Carney & Orange Alert.
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