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The twenty-four piece Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra boasts a full roster of instrumentation, including double reeds and French horns, for a sound that is somewhat rare in the professional jazz world, but familiar to anyone guiding a child through a high school music program with a "concert band." Lush and multi-layered, Refractions contains a full range of color and emotion.
The word "symphonic" comes to mind with so many deftly-woven textures underlying the free-swinging improvisations; the classical ideas married to jazz spontaneity; and the tunes laid down live, no overdubs, retaining their feel of freshness and freedom. Saxophonist Kim Richmond fits into the Gil Evans/Bill Holman/Don Sebesky school of expansive arrangement, and Refractions can sit on the shelf alongside anything those giants have done.
The Victor Young classic "Stella by Starlight" opens with a fanfare-ish trumpet leading into the familiar melody floating on a woodwind cloud, until it gets tethered down by the gravitational tug of Joey Sellers' trombone solo. The the Richmond-penned "Franz" (based on the first four notes of Franz Schubert's "Seranade," sounds classical, underlaid with an exotic rhythmic groove.
"Fantasy on You Must Believe in Spring" unfolds with a swirling-yet-subtle grandeur supplied by a pastel wash of flute, French horn and double reeds, and an introspectively lush piano opening by guest Bob Florence. The opener, "Cultural Obscurity," eases in with a pensive mood that soon swells into a dark-hued fanfare before it settles into an intricately-arranged theme.
This disc is on par with those of the masters of the genre; and I don't know if the Los Angeles-based Richmond works in the movies or for television, but his compositions seem tailor- made for cinematic treatment, full of strong story lines with numerous facinating subtexts. A grand set of sounds.
Track Listing: Continued Obscurity, Precious Promises, Fantasy on You Must Beleive in Spring, Variations, Franz,
Stella by Starlight, Refractions, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, America the Beautiful
Personnel: Kim Richmond--leader/conductor, alto/soprano saxophonesLeadJeff Driskill--saxophones, flute,
piccolo; Phil Feather--alto saxophone, oboe, flute; Glen Berger--tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet;
John Yoakum--tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet, English horn; Bob Carr--baritone saxophone, bass
clarinet, bassoon; Mike McGuffy, ron King, Steve Huffesteter, Clay Jenkins--trumpets and
flugelhorns; John Dickerson.Paul Loredo or Jean Marinelli--French horns; Bruce Fowler, Joey
Sellers, or Bill Tole, George McMullen--trombones; Morris Repass--bass trombone; Bill Roper-tuba,
voice on "Tumbling Tumbleweeds"; Tom Hynes--guitar; Rich Eames--piano; Trey Henry, Ken Wild--
basses; Ralph Razze--drums; Brad Dutz--hand percussion; David Johnson--mallet percussion;
guest piano solo--Bob Florence
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.