“Who’s Your Mama” opens this recording, with the trumpet of Ingrid Jensen intoning the the notes to NPR’s “Morning Edition” before the band takes the piece on a romp. It’s a fitting and joyful beginning to the program, pianist/composer/vocalist Borthwick’s second release as a leader. She’s a fine player, displaying a style that has its roots in mainstream jazz. Her solos are often lyrical (listen to the beauty and strength of the title track) and she can really dig into her phrases. Her wordless vocals add yet another color to several of the tracks, mixing well with the guitar and trumpet or flugelhorn. One hears the influences of Pat Metheny and McCoy Tyner in many of these pieces (and Herbie Hancock in several of the solos.) Her compositions are smartly constructed, with the rhythm section of Johannes Weidenmueller (bass) and Adam Cruz (drums) really pushing the pieces along. Continue reading →
Great new release by Boston pianist and composer, Ramona Borthwick. This contemporary release embraces beautiful melody and an undying sense of groove. The group dynamic is superb, and the rhythmic interaction, from Rubato, time signature differences, straight eighth feels to straight ahead swing is met with a confidence and musicality. The soloists are excellent, spatial and melodic.
Disc starts with Who’s Your Mama. Ingrid Jesen really opens with a beautiful statement. Her sound is round and inviting. The tune embraces different melodic statements, with Ramona singing a wordless vocal style over an inviting melody. Then the solo’s hit with a hard groove. Many will enjoy this small group arrangement which delivers a big sound. Most of you know what a dynamic soloist Ingrid is, but Noel and Ramona are musical forces on this disc.
Roughly about a year and a half ago, I decided to start a search for a grand piano. Aside from several local stores & dealers in the Boston area, my area of exploration extended to out of state New Hampshire, Connecticut & New York businesses as well. Adding to this were helpful friends, local musicians, teachers and piano technicians – willing accomplices in my search, who would inform me of a potential instrument if it appeared on their horizon. (Thanks to Victor Belanger, whose largesse included cheerful and complete responses to my many technical queries). And of course Craigslist, which can be a bit of a wild card, but worth a try nevertheless. To find the ‘perfect’ instrument would be complicated, as perfection is elusive, but my checklist was tangible.
Size: between 5’8” – 6’8”, preferably larger than 6′
Manufactured after 1950, it’s age preferably 5-20 years, requiring little or no major repair or maintenance for the next 20 years
Width not greater than 61” or else it wouldn’t fit through the studio entryway. (The concrete bulkhead could be modified, but I wasn’t prepared to undergo a demolition to accommodate a piano)
Deep, warm, rich sound, with notes in the upper and lower extremities that you’d actually want to play and not shy away from
It would serve well for both classical as well as jazz repertoire
Suited to my budget, which would place it somewhere in the mid-level range of pianos
This one a phantom stipulation but of great importance – a piano that would inspire my creativity and compositional flow
Almost all research was done on the internet – piano companies, model specifications, dealers, customer reviews, Larry Fine’s The Piano Book, and browsing through piano forums. Among the stores visited were Darrells Music Hall (Nashua, NH), Londonderry Piano (Salem, NH), Steinerts, Boston Organ & Pianos (Natick, MA) & Allegro Pianos (Stamford, CT).
My early search started with Steinways in mind – not the new pianos – despite the revered name and surrounding hype, I wasn’t enamoured with the sound or price,
By JOHN McDONOUGH | Downbeat Magazine “HotBox” review | May 2010
“Borthwick, who authored all the pieces in this self- produced and self-released CD, walks both sides of the street, playing excellent, if not quite distinctive, straightahead piano throughout, while adding her shimmering, wordless soprano lines to selected ensembles along the way. She does this sparingly, sometimes subtlety, and frequently hauntingly, never scatting or soloing but instead embedding and camouflaging herself deep into meticulously orchestrated unison lines in which her voice seems to float on piano, guitar and horn…” —JOHN McDONOUGH, Downbeat Magazine
“I like the warm spiritual vibe, especially Borthwick’s wordless vocals, a la Flora Purim.” —PAUL de BARROS, Downbeat Magazine
Sound Contest: Ciao Ramona, grazie per aver accettato la nostra intervista per i lettori di Sound Contest. C’e’ qualcosa di nuovo – aria nuova – in questo tuo ultimo CD, One Of Us… una palpabile maturazione delle tue composizioni…
Ramona Borthwick: Grazie a voi. E’ stato molto piacevole scrivere questa musica, ed io sono sempre impaziente di riascoltare i risultati delle registrazioni con la band in studio. Parlando poi di maturita’ – spero che sia una buona cosa (ride) – immagino che il trascorrere del tempo mi abbia rilassato nell’accettare il jazz come un approccio piuttosto che uno specifico genere o stile. E’ come essere autorizzati ad infondere idee da frontiere esterne al jazz, le cui possibilita’ possono essere illimitate. La musica del nuovo CD e scritta per un quintetto, ma richiederebbe un numero maggiore degli strumenti per suonarla, quindi e’ l’uso della voce e delle sovrapposizioni di diverse parti di tromba e chitarra che a volte fanno suonare il quintetto, per cosi’ dire, come una “piccola big band”.
Daughter of famous Bollywood composer Enoch Daniels, pianist Ramona Borthwick took her first musical steps in Bombay and there, along with husband, guitarist Noel Borthwick, recorded “Sound Matters” precisely 20 years ago, one of the first recordings of contemporary jazz in India. She later moved to Boston, where parallel to music, she got involved with graphic and web design.
“One Of Us” is her second album and continues to be based on the same artistic blend of swing and lyricism which was present in her debut album in 2006 (“A New Leaf”). Ramona has the ability to match difficult rhythms and melodies, and builds a complex mosaic of components found in modern jazz, European music, sometimes in the Indian tradition and often in Latin, especially when accompanied by the piano with flexible vocal phonetics. The rare gift of being an equally good pianist, singer and songwriter, makes a difference to a degree that can hardly go unnoticed.
Aesthetically there seem to be no boundaries, and she has no problem transitioning from an acoustic environment (the romantic “One Of Us”) to an electric Fender Rhodes (as in the modal “Resident Alien”), or in the introduction of the Eastern “Gaia” and the constant changes of “Chinese Whispers”,
with the cheerful Latin “Rio Alegre” closing the album. All the musicians have played brilliantly, the band comprising Noel Borthwick on guitar, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and flugelhorm, Johannes Weidenmueller on bass and Adam Cruz on drums.
Pianist Ramona Borthwick is nothing if not generous—offering up over seventy minutes of quality music on this, her second recording as leader. That the music is constantly arresting is testament to the quality of the arrangements and, in equal measure, to the virtuosity displayed by her quintet.
In effect, the quintet becomes at times a sextet as Borthwick employs her voice like an additional wind instrument to wonderful effect, adding rich harmonic and melodic tones to the music. Blending her voice with the guitar lines of Noel Borthwick or the trumpet/flugelhorn of Ingrid Jensen, she creates quite beautiful harmonies.
ONE OF US | Ramona Borthwick, Leitmotif 2010 By RAUL d’GAMA ROSE, Editor, AAJ | January 17, 2010
The wonderful music of One of Us dwells on the interconnection of all things. Pianist Ramona Borthwick and her quartet make this happen on two important levels. First, they play from the same script as if they had studied the pages and came to make each their own in a very special and individual way. Second, there is a seamless connection between each of the songs and the quartet’s leader; Borthwick brings her considerable talent in weaving everything together with a secret gossamer thread. Both of these attributes speak volumes about the sensitivity with which each of the musicians handles the considerably—sometimes dense—material.
Ramona Borthwick proves that there is some depth among younger composers. Her bright work is agape at the immensity of all things. It appears that she looks at the world with childlike wonder, but is also privy to the true and deep nature of what she sees. This is reflected in the fluidity and the exquisite allure that is woven through each melody. Borthwick also leads and inspires colorful and artful harmonic invention throughout. She has a willing ally in trumpeter/flugelhornist Ingrid Jensen, whose memorable work here is absolutely magnificent; she plays each note as if it were her last. The result is solos like the music of dew on leaves—pristine, and each ringing with priceless wonderment.
Am excited to announce the release of my new CD ‘One Of Us’. The music on this project is reflective of personal experiences, and is dedicated to our wonderful planet Earth, who in all her graciousness has been sustaining us forever. The CD comprises ten original compositions that were recorded last summer with some amazing players – Ingrid Jensen (tpt), Noel Borthwick (gtr), Johannes Weidenmueller (b) & Adam Cruz (dr). Most of the tunes were written specifically for this project over a period of a few months, some of them especially with the musicians in mind. Some info on the musicians: Ingrid Jensen, a multifaceted player and one of the leading voices on the trumpet, brings her trademark fire, energy and lyricism to this project. Noel Borthwick, gifted guitarist, Cakewalk CTO and producer of this project, lent his distinctive sound to the music, and was the hardest to book for this recording 🙂 Johannes Weidenmuller, a highly sought after bass player on the New York scene, was an integral member of the Kenny Werner trio for many years and also worked with John Abercrombie, Joe Lovano, John Scofield and innumerable others. Drummer Adam Cruz a regular with Danilo Perez, has played with David Sanchez, Tom Harrell, Chris Potter, Paquito D’Rivera, and recorded with Chick Corea (Origin).
Some enjoyable (and informative) reading on the trials and joys of producing a CD at Noel Borthwick’s blog. These production notes on the creative/production timeline of the CD ‘One Of Us’, were written by Noel and reference a gamut of topics ranging from the project’s ‘Conception’ to ‘Delivery’. Methinks it feels pretty darn close to a birthing process, labor included 🙂
My upcoming quintet CD has been sent to mastering, whew! (It was recorded last summer in NY). Being witness to another series of mixing sessions was a great learning process for me – not entirely fun I admit – my respect & admiration for all the sound engineers out there has grown infinitely 🙂 Dan and Noel did a great job, and I can’t wait to hear the finished result. Have just started on the artwork for the CD digipak – should be interesting. Will keep you posted on how things are moving.