May 16 2016
Rita Collective derives its name from the Anouar Brahem recording The Astounding Eyes of Rita, though it goes deeper than that. This quartet of bass clarinet, marimba, acoustic bass and percussion charts a course similar to that of Brahem, who finds his own home in jazz for his oud and singular form of jazz-folk-chamber fusion. Rita Collective isn’t a Brahem clone, nor are they a tribute act, but they do occupy a common patch of turf as Brahem on the jazz landscape.
The quartet shifts the ratio between jazz and chamber, but never to where one masks the existence of the other. “No Return” has a pleasant swing to it, but the chamber elements provide the chill of shadow to the tempo’s beaming sunlight. After an extended period of contemplation, “Slow Snow” gradually reveals itself as a post-bop, with Dean Keller‘s bass clarinet adding just a little bit of, but essential, edge. When the quartet leans more to the chamber influence, tunes like “Dark Heart” and “Gotta Gig(ue)” lend some nice moodiness and introspection to the affair, even when accompanied with a burst of playfulness.
“The Astounding Eyes of Rita” is one of two Anouar Brahem compositions presented by the quartet, along with “Dances With Waves,” from that same recording. The personality of the latter tune really shines bright from the melodic contribution from the marimba of Kristen Shiner McGuire, both when it’s out front in the spotlight, but even more effectively in the way it bolsters the contribution from Keller’s bass clarinet.
“Sky Sketches” uses a Miles Davis composition for its seed and gains a bloom of an upbeat tune with alluring melodic lines. Guest Mark Collins adds some welcome texture on flugelhorn, yielding some scope for the bass clarinet’s tonal range. A rendition of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of” strays a bit too far from the album’s center of gravity, but it does let percussionist Matt Bevan-Perkins stretch out and exert his influence over the proceedings. Along those same lines, the chipper “No Return” lets bassist Kyle Vock flex his muscle while also doing his part to keep the song scooting along.
A nice addition to the chamber jazz sub-genre, and a solid option for those of you looking for some bass clarinet action.
Your album personnel: Dean Keller (bass clarinet), Kristen Shiner McGuire (marimba), Kyle Vock (acoustic bass), Matt Bevan-Perkins (percussion) and guest: Mark Collins (flugelhorn).
The album is Self-Produced.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Soundcloud page.
Jazz from the Rochester, NY scene.