Rik Wright's Fundamental Forces — Blue
(HipSync 8-84501-94011-5, 2013, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-03-07With Blue, Rik Wright demonstrates that you can move away from overtly outside styles (as he explored back with Jackhammer Trio and Awkward Star, covered earlier by Exposé) to a more conventional type of jazz, but still maintain a sense of originality. With Fundamental Forces, he's assembled a crew of outstanding players, each well versed in their instruments' histories and eager to venture outside the norms. On woodwinds, James DeJoie can bop with the best of them, as well as squawk and squeal, all with an innate sense of what works for the tune; Greg Campbell is a master of the unexpected on the drum kit, whether it's left-field cross-rhythms in a fill, sudden silences in a pattern, or the use of found objects as adjuncts to the normal drums and cymbals; Geoff Harper is a superbly inventive bassist, able to swing like an old-timer or produce an endless variety of unexpected tones from his upright; Wright himself is a deceptively subtle guitarist, blending natural sounds and effects seamlessly, never overstated or in-your-face attention-grabbing, giving us the right notes with a beautiful tone (though his solo on "Miss Thing" demonstrates he's no slouch when he feels like going for it). The other strength of Blue is the quality of Wright's compositions. There's a kind of minimalism at work, with each piece consisting of a melody, a bass line, and a very sketchy harmonic framework. But what they do with these simple materials is marvelous, with a very free, open sound that's never busy or crowded, exploring each for six to 12 minutes, long enough to feel full but not run out of steam. I wouldn't call it "straight" jazz (and isn't it too bad there's such a thing as straight jazz?), but it hits a sweet spot that should be equally appealing to jazz fans and listeners coming from the rock side who dabble in jazz-rock or fusion.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more