Richie Cole and the Alto Madness Orchestra: Rise's Rose Garden

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Risë's Rose Garden is a compelling, if not profound, statement of Richie Cole's vision of "Alto Madness, the saxophonist's respectful allusion to the Sonny Rollins/John Coltrane lower reed affliction. The disc was recorded in the wake of Cole's wife's death last year—and if, as paraphrased by the late Will Durant, the greatest beauty is begat of heartbreak, then Risë's Rose Garden exists as a temporal definition of this process.

Like many of Cole's Alto Madness recordings, particularly those with larger groups, Garden is a look back through modern spectacles, transforming well-known and not so well-known material through a Swing Era filter—viewed, as always with Cole, from the vantage of bebop. Cole has made a cottage industry of applying bebop concepts to all the material that comes his way (for an example, spin his recent Back On Top, also on Jazz Excursion).

The band Cole has assembled for Risë's Rose Garden is made of platinum and plays as such. To his regular army, Cole has added trumpeter Jack Walrath, guitarist Vic Juris and pianist Don Friedman, each of whom receives ample solo space. The opening title composition is as bright and sunny as any Cole tune. He presents it very much as an ensemble piece and allows his fine band to shine.

As ever (and appropriately), the majority of the two-disc set finds Cole's bright alto front and center, emerging fully on the second selection, "There will Never be Another You, comped perfectly by Juris' guitar, who takes the second solo after Cole, playing in precise, round bebop tones warmed by ample reverb. Cole, Juris, and drummer Wayne Dunton trade friendly eights in grand style before returning to the effervescent head of the melody.

Of greatest pleasures on Risë's Rose Garden are the inevitable surprises. "Canadian Sunset is transformed from Jug Ammons' smoky bar piece to a big band caravan, carrying Miller, Goodman, Dorsey, Ellington, and even a little Basie in Don Friedman's piano chording. "Speak Low again showcases Friedman in a full-bodied environment traveling at the velocity of bop.

"Ewing Cha Cha displays Cole's Latin wares in both arrangement and performance. Cole arranges (like Bobby Watson) as if Latin Jazz were made for the alto saxophone. Bobby Darin is everywhere these days, and here Cole conjures a swinging "Beyond the Sea, sporting a handy introduction and solo by Vic Juris. The trumpets are given reign on the melody while the reeds weave a complex harmony.

And finally, Cole infuses "Blueberry Hill, not a jazz tune at all, with the fragrant metaphor of Risë's Garden. It is not rock, Creole or jazz—it is music. Music is all Richie Cole has ever been about, and Risë's Rose Garden deserves a place on 2006's best-of lists.

Track Listing: CD1: Ris

Personnel: CD1: Richie Cole: alto sax; Bobby Howell: tenor sax; Nathan Eklund (1,3,4,8), Chris Jaudes (5-7,9): trumpet; Rick Stepton: trombone; Vic Juris (2,5-7,9): guitar; Don Friedman: piano; Rick Crane: bass; Wayne Dunton: drums; Ray Mantilla (3): percussion. CD2: Cole: alto sax; Howell: tenor sax; Eklund (2-4,7,8), Jaudes (1,5,6), Jack Walrath (2-4, 7): trumpet; Stepton: trombone; Juris (1,5,6): guitar; Friedman: piano; Crane: bass; Dunton: drums; Mantilla (3): percussion.

Title: Rise's Rose Garden | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Jazz Excursion Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Ray Charles Orchestra: Zurich 1961-Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series, Vol. 41" CD/LP/Track Review Ray Charles Orchestra: Zurich 1961-Swiss Radio Days Jazz...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Live At The Troubadour 1969" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Troubadour 1969
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Evergreen (Canceled World)" CD/LP/Track Review Evergreen (Canceled World)
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "The Ultimate Experience" CD/LP/Track Review The Ultimate Experience
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Supreme" CD/LP/Track Review Supreme
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.