All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

137

Rik Wright's Zen Tornado: Zen Tornado

Eric J. Iannelli By

Sign in to view read count
Zen Tornado, as the name alone might imply, is a tempestuous brew of jazz fusion with moments of almost transcendental tranquility. The eponymous ensemble, a semi-conventional five-piece unit, is led by guitarist Rik Wright, and the resulting debut full-length has a distinct thrust and direction that suggests Wright was able to get precisely what he wanted out of the group (some performers, like drummer Simon Grant, are longtime friends and collaborators of his) without suppressing individual initiative or spontaneity.

Wright has been gigging in and around Seattle for a number of years now, appearing in and heading other fusion outfits such as Disjunkt and, earlier still, the Jackhammer Trio. Those two in particular inclined toward the more muscular rock part of fusion, while this latest ensemble aims for an element of finesse in the form of violin and Eastern-sounding melodies. "Hummingbirds Don't Sing," which opens the album, intros with violinist Alicia Allen establishing the gypsy-like motif that punctuates the song. This same motif gives the players brief opportunities to deliver amusing little quips and jibes before Grant slides the whole undertaking toward dissonance and near collapse.

"Blue Streak" experiments in its early stages with irregular funk, headed by saxophonist James Dejoie; the second part, which begins following the de rigeur chaotic climax, puts the strings at the helm. Wright and bassist James Whiton have their instruments channeled through digital audio devices, the former getting a rubbery, hollow twang, the latter a punchy synthesizer effect.

The eye of the storm arrives with the meditative ballad "Sunrise Pixels" (Grant and Whiton sit most of this one out), succeeded by the smoky, groove-tinged "Boogie for Buddha." After Dejoie's down-and-dirty two-minute lead, Wright takes a modest bluesy solo before giving the nod to Allen—it's her presence that really sets this disc apart stylistically—and her swoops and flutterings.

"Paradiggum" revives the gritty party funk of "Blue Streak," with nearly every instrument getting the twisted electronic treatment. "Scratch Ticket" returns to a calmer vibe. Dejoie plays flute here, which is as unexpected as James Spaulding doing so on Hub-Tones, and equally as beautiful. The album closes on a rumbling, swinging note with "Clickstream."

Zen Tornado is not the place to go looking for jaw-dropping solos; but then, Wright clearly states that this project isn't about that. This disc is more concerned with bringing popular and exotic genres into the context of jazz while remaining accessible and enjoyable, and in this it undoubtedly succeeds.

Visit Rik Wright on the web.


Track Listing: 1.Hummingbirds Don't Sing (5:24) 2. Blue Streak (10:22) 3. Sunrise Pixels (4:28) 4. Boogie for Buddha (6:42) 5. Paradiggum (5:43) 6. Scratch Ticket (4:59) 7. Clickstream (4:44)

Personnel: Rik Wright (guitars); Alicia Allen (violin); James Dejoie (reeds); James Whiton (bass); Simon Grant (drums)

Title: Zen Tornado | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: HipSync Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Postcard Collection CD/LP/Track Review
Postcard Collection
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Der Dichter Spricht CD/LP/Track Review
Der Dichter Spricht
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Dodecahedron CD/LP/Track Review
Dodecahedron
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 21, 2018
Read The Chopin Project CD/LP/Track Review
The Chopin Project
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Grime Scene CD/LP/Track Review
Grime Scene
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 20, 2018
Read "Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 14, 2017
Read "Out of Place" CD/LP/Track Review Out of Place
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "Some Other Time/Slow Café" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time/Slow Café
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Clean" CD/LP/Track Review Clean
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "Der Verboten" CD/LP/Track Review Der Verboten
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "Veterans of Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017