released 03 November 2010
Wirtz's style embodies a knowledge and respect for the masters who came before him, while simultaneously displaying his forward-thinking mentality. "For me jazz has always been about 'now.' That mindset is what has led to every major innovation in jazz; it's what continues to move the music forward." This ethos can be heard on tracks like "Black Hole Sun," in which Wirtz redefines the modern day standard, deconstructing and reconstructing the tune from the ground up. His looser, re-harmonized version of "Someday My Prince Will Come" also nods toward this innovative style, providing a much darker tone on the classic.
However, the majority of the album is based around his strength as both a composer and improviser. Songs like "Big Bright Burning Yellow Sun" and "Blue Ridge Drive" display a more reflective mood, as the latter includes heartfelt audio clips from Wirtz's own family history. "Eventide," "Running At Sea Level," and "Despite Appearances," on the other hand, showcase an intricate method of improvisatory storytelling. The tasteful mix of approaches results in an incredible and bold debut--Sea Level.
"I get the same sensation with Wirtz as I do Joshua Redman, Herbie Hancock, and even Coltrane." -- Music Emissions
"Indeed the skill set of the player will dictate how well your attention span can be maintained. What am I trying to say? Wirtz pulls it off flawlessly." -- Michael Mullins, Skope Mag
"Sea Level by Jon Wirtz is a brilliant collection of music." -- Cyrus Rhodes, Indie Music Digest
"There was a lyricism, a beauty and intimate melodic feel that really comes through in every song regardless of what else is happening..." -- Michael Anderson, Gear Diary
"He is no doubt a gifted player & composer . . . It takes talent to hold the attention span of a listener with just one instrument, Wirtz pulls this off with sheer poise." -- Markus Druery, Indieshark
"Sea Level is one amazing solo debut . . . his passion and energy and spirit as an artist shine through every track." -- Jeanie Straub, Colorado Music Buzz
"Sea Level by Jon Wirtz is an impressive collection of music. The more you look at, the more impressive it really is." -- Markus Druery, Indieshark
"Though ‘Sea Level’ reflects jazz piano greats like Ahmad Jamal, Keith Jarrett and, of course, Thelonious Monk, it also has pop touchstones that make it accessible to even the most neophyte of jazz listeners…" -- Eryc Eyl, The Denver Post
"No doubt more work is required from a musician to fill this sonic space all by himself thus keeping the attention span of the listener all by himself. Brilliant artists can rise to this challenge, & I give Wirtz high marks for taking this on & even pulling it off. The musicianship is clearly first rate..." -- Cyrus Rhodes, Indie Music Digest