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The Ulysses Cycle

by Russ Kaplan+7

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $9.99 USD  or more


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    The full album in jewel case with a 28 page booklet including all of the album and track art. The images shown here are just a few of the illustrations from the project - for a view of all pages take a peek at Purchase includes download of the music plus a pdf file of the illustrations.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Ulysses Cycle via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
    edition of 900 
    Purchasable with gift card

      $11.98 USD or more 


Listen! 02:24
All stories start in quiet, so listen! King Antinous's court sits in silence, watching an old bearded stranger wolf a meal. "Who are you, and what washed you up like driftwood on our shores?" "I am no flotsam, no sea glass worn smooth: I am Odysseus, Ithaca's king and victor at Troy, many lost miles and twenty years from home." The king's daughter, Nausicaa, clambers onto his knee and prompts him, "Sing me a song, a twisty-turny song…" Odysseus wipes his mouth and begins.
Nightfall 01:10
How big must a wooden horse be to house an army? How large a gift before you doubt its good intentions? A battalion keep silent in the horse's belly, jumbled limbs against spears within the city walls. Slowly, darkness closes on the towers of Ilium. Like stars, the soldiers glint against the gates, winking into the night one by one.
The Sack 05:20
Forty men unknit their bones from cramped confinement and, born with the strength of hundreds, scream into their enemy's arms. Swords break. Spears shiver on shields. Battle cries rill at cross-purposes. Viscera spills beneath rent armor. Blood clots the earth. When it is finished, Odysseus musters the battered victors and turns his face to the sea, to home.
Listen! (ii) 01:11
Still wiping blood from their eyes, the soldiers take up their oars and clamber up the rigging. They become sailors again in uncertain waters. The ship's wake breaks the surf against Poseidon's forehead and the god stirs, crowned in fog thick enough to flummox any navigator.
Lotus Eater 04:08
The ship eddies in languor, the crew given over to smoking and stupor. There is no urgency in the land of the Lotus Eaters—only merry lounging wafting into fragrant forgetfulness. As the only man left upright, Odysseus must stand up his prone crew and pry them from their pipes.
Gouge 05:50
The neon lights of whorehouses beckon the men to vice again. Odysseus is left to guard the door and think of his wife when the master of the house, a Cyclopean pimp, rampages in. The quick-witted captain conceals his men in women's clothes and they pass well enough for ladies of ill-repute to escape… but Odysseus can't resist a parting jab to reveal his identity to the pimp, Poseidon's vengeful son.
Windbag 06:02
Drifting into the kingdom of Aeolus, Odysseus palavers with the Wind God, who blesses him with a precious gift: the North, South, and East winds in a sack. Only the West wind remains free, to speed the crew home to Ithaca. The suspicious crew opens the bag while Odysseus sleeps and a tremendous gale rockets their ship to the stratosphere.
The ship, now borne on cosmic winds into the stars, wrecks onto a small moon: the home of Circe, enchantress, dominatrix, space-vixen. The men fall upon her feast and in their ravenous eating are transformed into pigs. Only sly Odysseus defies her magic. Impressed with his cunning, Circe teaches him the incantation to turn the swine back to sailors.
Direction-less, Odysseus seeks to enter Hades for a conference with the blind seer Tiresias. In a dark smoky corner of the underworld, surrounded by the snaps and applause of shades, the old man spins his dire prophecies: above all, the men must fear seduction in song.
Siren Song 03:38
Even Odysseus is vulnerable to the Sirens' legendary song. Bested by his curiosity, Odysseus asks his men to plug their ears, but lash him to the mast of the ship so that he alone can hear it yet avoid doom. The temptation proves too great and, in the confusion of a storm, Odysseus dives into the roiling sea.
Kalypso 05:15
The goddess Kalypso finds Odysseus's beaten body on her shores and restores him to health. He passes eight years as her semi-reluctant gigolo until he finally implores Zeus to free him for home. A thunderbolt splits his chains, he builds a raft, and sets again to sea. After days lost and starving, he spots a distant friendly shore: Phaeacia, where he now sits, spinning this tale to its end.
The story ends in the storyteller's last exhalation, caught between the rapt faces and clapping hands of his audience. As one person, the hospitable Phaeacians assert their purpose: to see Odysseus safely home.
Restored to health, Odysseus finally steers his prow safely homeward. Disembarking to sleep at last on Ithaca's shore, he wakes to the familiar air, the familiar slant of sun, as the long-lost dawn of his own land breaks about him.
Recognition 04:26
Telemachus, Odysseus's son, sees his father for the first time with the eyes of a boy grown to manhood. They embrace. Odysseus hears that his home has been overrun with suitors vying for his wife Penelope's hand and the Ithacan crown. Again the gods intervene as Athena pledges her support to restore him to his throne.
Disguised by Athena as an old beggar, Odysseus enters his befouled hall to find the suitors in a riotous party, drunken and brawling. Challenged to a boxing match, he bests one brute handily and continues through the house unmolested.
Penelope 04:16
Odysseus awakes to Penelope's face, lost so long ago, treasured in his memory and made newly vivid after his long wait. In his beggar's disguise, she cannot recognize him and weeps and doubts this stranger's news of her husband, close to home at last.
What's Mine 03:42
In the great hall with the suitors around them, Athena lifts her disguise to reveal Odysseus, true ruler of Ithaca. Swords clash as Telemachus and Odysseus stand against overwhelming odds and slick the floor with their enemies' blood. When it is finished, only the father and the son remain alive and standing in the sullied hall.
Finally, without impediment, the husband stands before his wife, bloodied by his foes. The son looks upon his mother and father embracing, wet with tears that taste of the ocean. Odysseus and Penelope are reunited after twenty years apart, king and queen.
The Trial 00:33
Vengeance begets vengeance, blood the force that turns the wheel perpetually. The suitors' families demand recompense for their dead. Odysseus must stand trial. The wanderer is set forth on stormy seas again, banished for ten years as punishment for his crimes.
All songs end in quiet, so while this one still sounds, listen! Once our story began with a man who wandered, longing for home. Odysseus begins another story, another song, as the shores of Ithaca recede behind his boats and he once again turns his face into hard winds and the spray of storm-tossed seas.


Russ Kaplan is a musical storyteller.  A creatively restless composer and versatile keyboardist, his diverse musical obsessions have led him through the worlds of jazz, rock, and theatre music.  His newest project is a band that brings all these elements seamlessly together - a postmodern jazz supergroup known simply as "Russ Kaplan + 7."  Taking Jazz into a high-concept narrative realm, RK+7 tells fantastic stories through Kaplan’s evocative compositions, which draw on influences from dixieland jazz to ambient rock.  Their debut album The Ulysses Cycle is a 20-song narrative suite based on Homer's Odyssey, featuring guest musicians from the worlds of classical music, electro, hip-hop and indie rock.

The project began as Russ' 'birthday present to himself' in January 2008. After years of touring and perfecting the full 'play', recording was done in 3 full day sessions in 2012.

Russ originally studied Theater Directing at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama, where he also studied Jazz performance with legendary saxophonist Eric Kloss.  In New York he has played with a diverse array of Rock, Jazz and Americana bands, as well as composing music for the hit Off-Broadway musical In Transit.  The amazing players that bring Russ' tunes to life are trumpet player Jonathan Powell (Eddie Palmieri, Blitz the Ambassador), saxophonists Kyle Saulnier (Awakening Orchestra) and Mike McGinnis (Stu and the Negro Problem, The Four Bags), guitarist Tom Gavin (Moore & Sons), bassist Moppa Elliott (Mostly Other People Do the Killing), drummer Wayan Zoey (The Funk Ark), and percussionist Rohin Khemani (Red Baraat).


released April 16, 2013

Album Download includes a 28 page digital booklet with narrative and individual art for each chapter.


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