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Dichotomy prevails on pianist Claire Ritter's Greener Than Blue rhythmic blues motifs versus peaceful impressionism; rags vs. tone poems; alternating west and east atmospherics; the rent party vying with the parlor. And still it holds together, thanks to the music's spare beauty and Ritter's always interesting melodic vision.
Ritter delivers here on solo piano and in a reed/piano/drums trio with the occasional added viola, erhu, and various exotic percussion. The set starts out with a sort of mini-suite, a trio of trio tunes, with Stan Strickland sitting in on soprano saxophone and Bob Weiner in the drummer's chair. "Soho Rag," a light-hearted and unpretentious bit of Americana, opens the disc. "Up To You" wanders into gentle abstraction, bringing the late Steve Lacy's sound to mind with its Monk-like melody, leading into the darker "Imagine That" that, again, evokes Lacy.
The title tune, with Ritter going solo, feels like a folk song reverie, something from the Appalachians, prettied up for the parlor, as beautiful as sound gets.
"Opus 21: World Poems for Peace," an eighteen-minute, eight-piece work, takes the sound into more abstract, dreamy soundscapes, with an always enchanting melodic thread, incorporating the viola and erhu, as well as the subtle percussions of the surdo, caxixi, ganza, reco-reco, wood chimes and wind chimes. This set drifts through time with an uncluttered and economic beauty, a pared down simplicity that evokes the theme of the piece perfectly. Perhaps the world will take the message to heart.
Track Listing: Soho Rag, Up to You, Imagine That, Into Turquoise, Funky Feet, Claire's Blue, Hymn of Greener Than Blue, Up to You 2, Soho Rag 2. Pous 21: World Poems for Peace--While Leaves Are Changing, Bright Rain, Tender are the Echoes, Samba Silhouettes, Hymn of Greener Than Blue, Ghost Danza, September Reverie, Rising Star
Personnel: Claire Ritter--piano/composer; Stan Strickland--soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, voice; Bob weiner--drums and percussion; Todd Low--viola and erhu
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.