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Sam Rivers' Rivbea All-Star Orchestra: Culmination

David Adler By

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The anticipated follow-up to last year’s acclaimed Inspiration is here. Rivers, well into his 70s, is as sharp as ever on tenor, soprano, and flute. The music is similar to that heard on the previous album — strident yet sublime big band charts crafted by Rivers roughly between 1969 and 1994, resuscitated by alto sax man and M-Base creator Steve Coleman. Most are vamp-based funk pieces, the solos interspersed with tightly arranged, dissonant shout choruses and thematic statements from the star-studded ensemble. "Ripples," the longest track, is a bit different than the rest, as it’s built around a latin groove.

You can practically hear the 70s loft scene come to life as Rivers and the other strong soloists on this record — Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, and Hamiet Bluiett among them — take turns navigating the atonal contours of these compositions. Yet another elliptically eloquent statement from Rivers, one of the most refreshingly radical improvisers of our time.

Title: Culmination | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: RCA Victor

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