Brooklyn-based pianist Richard X Bennett is kind of the love child of Ramsey Lewis and Norah Jones with a head stuffed full of mescaline. He has Lewis' two-fisted poppy funkiness down and Jones' gift for a melodic hook, too. The combination is enriched, one speculates, by extensive first-hand knowledge of hallucinogens. Bennett, who is by his standards conservatively attired on the front cover of this album, and even more so in the YouTube clip below, enjoys sporting ladies' leopard-skin tights and Dame Edna Everage-like spectacle frames. He is, we learn in the publicity material, well plugged in to the world of installation art, which might set your bullshit-alarm-bell ringing, but Bennett delivers the package with so much straightforward joy and lack of guile that one warms to it instantly.
Bennett has yet to figure large in the jazz and beyond-jazz world, at least in the UK, but he has a decade-long discography. Before signing to London label Ubuntu, he recorded for US label Ropeadope, a congenial home for maverick talents. Ropeadope released his last two albums, What Is Now and Experiments With Truth, simultaneously in 2017. Bennett also has a string of what he describes as "raga jazz" albums on Time in India, where he lived and worked for several years at the turn of the 2010s.
On RXB3, Bennett fronts a trio, which is completed by acoustic bassist Adam Armstrong and drummer Julian Edmond. The album comprises twelve relatively brief, uncomplicated originals (average track length is four minutes). Bennett states the themes and then gets discursive on them, embellishing rather than full-on improvising. You could dance to them and you can also have fun just sitting back and listening to them. There is nothing demanding about the music but that is not to say it lacks substance. Although their styles are wholly different, Bennett brings to mind another one-off keyboard player, Marco Benevento, whose work on the Royal Potato Family label is also quirky and fun. We like fun.
I Come From The Future; This Is My Code; It’s Only July; Laughing Lion; One Voice; Made From Stone; North Atlantic; Vape; All Organic; Plastique; The Reckoning; Tum Hi Ho.
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