Sam Rivers' Rivbea All-Star Orchestra: Inspiration (2002)
On his much-anticipated debut for RCA, Rivers displays his considerable compositional and arranging skills in conjunction with his well documented and quite revered technical proficiencies. The first composition titled, “Vines” packs a mighty punch through punctually stated choruses from the huge horn section, complete with generous soloing interspersed within the arrangement. This piece is a vibrant, well coordinated although odd-metered swing. “Nebula” boasts a similar attack via the upfront horn section featuring melodic overtones and crisp rhythms. Here, the feisty soloing from various members of the orchestra enhance the somewhat bold, brash motifs.
With this recording, Rivers’ “brassy” big band production/arrangements at times rekindles thoughts of Dizzy Gillespie’s big band excursions as Gillespie’s legacy plays a major role within Rivers’ music, which is evident on the title cut, “Inspiration”. Referring to this piece in the liners, Rivers states...”Inspiration is based on the harmonic variations in the Dizzy Gillespie composition “Tanga”. Here, the big band emphasize the familiar theme yet incorporate a larger than life vibe while expounding upon the central motif. Rivers’ “Whirlwind” embarks on a triumphant sounding chorus over a hard-hitting funk-rock beat as the soloists continue to stretch out in exhilarating fashion. Rivers adds spice while utilizing the flute on “Rejuvenation” as alto saxophonist Steve Coleman contributes fleet-fingered phraseology along with Gary Thomas’ angular tenor sax solo while members of the brass section air it out!
Sam Rivers’ Inspiration comes from a man who has inspired so many others. Big band fanatics and modern jazz aficionados should enjoy the heck out of this one. A most gratifying and noteworthy effort from the venerable Sam Rivers and his modern jazz all-stars! * * * * 1/2
Sam Rivers; Composer, Producer
Record Label: RCA Victor
Style: Modern Jazz