All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

321

Polymorphism: Sound Is What You Shape It

By

Sign in to view read count
AAJ: What qualities do you admire in your fellow band members?

RW: Every single player in my group has two qualities: a massive sense of experimentation coupled with very hefty technical chops. On top of that, I sought out people who were each known for doing their own thing on their instrument. We all swim upstream, so to speak. At our best, any tune can become a game of hot potato where we’re constantly one-upping each other. It’s very hard to have a bad night with these guys. There’s always one smart-ass on the stage who’s going to take a left turn and make everybody think on their toes for the rest of the tune.

AAJ: I caught your show at the Mars Bar with the 4tet and violinist Alicia Allen. At the time, you mentioned she will be joining the band on your regional tour. What additional elements does she bring to the band?

RW: Alicia is a friend of the group who fast became our biggest fan. I’ve performed with her in a few other settings as well. I’m a huge fan of modern improvisational violinists like Jeff Gauthier, Carla Kihlstedt, Eyvind Kang and Jenny Scheinman, and Alicia’s musicality is from that same heritage. It’s another step forward in my quest to blend jazz, rock and folk music into something new altogether.

The addition of Alicia to the group allows the band to get into quieter, more intimate and atmospheric spaces than we were able to achieve before. As you hear from listening to Polymorphism, we already had this wonderful mystery land in our soundscape where the electric guitar, effected acoustic bass, and effected baritone saxophone get very difficult to distinguish from each other. This is how we create those unique spaces in our music where the listener is presented with dreamy timbres they’ve likely never heard before. The tonal values of a violin perfectly complement this sonic palette, and yet it maintains its own unique voice as well. We get into these uniquely lyrical conversations between the violin and the other instruments.

I had a handful of new compositions sitting around that I wasn’t sure how to orchestrate, and the additional voice of the violin opened up new possibilities that I found incredibly inspiring. We’re finishing up supporting Polymorphism as a quintet under the moniker "4tet+1", but in December we’ll be recording the new material for an upcoming release. After that I’m going to rename the band as "Rik Wright’s Zen Tornado" to get us away from a group name that indicates a particular genre of music.

AAJ: HipSync Records has functioned as a label and production company. Describe the origin and development of HipSync.

RW: HipSync Records was founded in 1998 by myself and drummer/producer Simon Grant. We recognized the massive amount of talent in the Seattle music scene and put together HipSync as a cooperative chartered with giving more adventurous Northwest acts the opportunity to get their work out to a broad listening public. Over the years we’ve had some 30 or so people involved with the label’s efforts. And to clear up one common misperception, we’re not just a jazz label. We’re not even primarily a jazz label. We select our artists by the criterion that all forms of modern jazz, electronica, free improvisation, and more experimental examples of popular and instrumental music are considered.

We started out promoting small shows in coffee bars and art galleries, and selling self-produced CDs at local record stores and live performances. We’ve curated concert series at venues like The OK Hotel, Sit and Spin, Speakeasy Café, Tula’s, and most recently The Mars Bar. In fact we’ve just extended our “Electric Bebop” series at Cafe Venus/The Mars Bar to run through the end of the year. Currently our roster includes art-rock band Awkward Star, saxophone colossus Dan Blunck, free jazz trio Disjunkt, out-jazzers Free Consultation, free improvisation group Kallisti, experimental electronica duo Obelus, and The Tony Grasso Saxophone Quartet. We have released and internationally distributed a dozen recordings and promoted over 100 events in Seattle, Portland and Olympia.

AAJ: How has the local club scene changed in the last few years?

RW: Well, obviously there are a lot fewer premium clubs going on now than there used to be. Starting with the 2001 earthquake, which single-handedly killed the Pioneer Square scene, and then the dot-com bust, September 11th, and now the economic “recovery”—more and more venues have folded until there are just a handful of decent stages left. However, in response to all that, there seems to be a strong sense of community rising. New venues are starting to open up and coffee shops and pubs have started to take up the slack in promoting new music. There also seems to be an artistic curiosity present in the audience lately. I’m guessing this in response to the crash of the popular music industry and just plain boring nature of commercial radio. The last two years really sucked for the Seattle music scene, but we’re coming out of it now. The thing that I most like about this town is that people aren’t afraid to take chances and go against the mainstream. There’s a history of unrecognized brilliance here, and the next Quincy Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain types will be drawn here by that same vibe. There’s a ton happening in Seattle these days in many different genres. I think the next two years are going to be a very interesting time to be listening to music in Seattle clubs!

Visit Rick Wright on the web at www.rikwright.com .

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club Live Reviews
Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club
by Gareth Thomas
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note" Live Reviews Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms
by Martin Longley
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "The Specials at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Specials at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "Bruselas Flamenco Festival 2018" Live Reviews Bruselas Flamenco Festival 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia" Live Reviews AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia
by Mark Holston
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Match&Fuse Dublin 2017" Live Reviews Match&Fuse Dublin 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 24, 2017