By Dr. Rick Holland | Aug 2, 2011
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.
And, by no means is Ingrid the only show in town here. All the soloists play with great confidence and authority. Ingrid is great by the way. And she sounds very comfortable with this group. The interaction across the band is great.
The next tune– a great dynamic is created on Listening to Love. Noel, Ingrid and Ramona create a 6tet sound with all three voices (Voice, Trumpet and Guitar) playing in beautiful unison. (Notice the disc is only 5 players!!) Pitch and ‘feel’ is one. Noel Borthwick’s solo is diverse in his harmonic-rhythmic statements. Cruz and Weidmueller compliment the rhythm section solo’s very nicely. The group really listens well. As the last melodic statement testifies, the Flugel, Piano and Guitar melody is simply beautiful. Cruz sounds fantastic!
One of Us, is a piano-trio feature. Ramona and Johannes play with nice melodic motion. Ensemble playing is really nice.
Resident Alien, is quirky melody, that ’embraces’ a ‘cool’ quirky tune. I enjoyed Ingrid’s opening statement, that ‘caught’ the composer’s ‘ideal’ of an alienic element in the air. Then she leads the rhythm section on a groovin’ ride. Noel and Ramona join Ingrid’s flow nicely. I like Ramona’s sound on electric keyboard. It’s not really a ‘classic’ Rhodes sound, but it has an embracing ”sound’ to my ear.
Ingrid starts Gaia, with some 20th Century trumpet groans, followed by a spooky piano trio. I like the call and response of Jenson and trio. As always the wordless vocal on top in the melody is so cool. It gives this entire recording a sense of beauty. The non-traditional approach of leading into the solo’s with some melodic call and response in a contemporary vein creates a great listen!
Eight Winds, is more of the beauty Ramona creates with melody, piano and voice. Ingrid’s harmony is real nice. Pitch is superb. Creating a round sound in the ensemble. (I hate harmony when it cannot match the ensemble’s goals of pitch and sound–Ingrid nails it!!) She sounds round whether in a mute or open. The trumpet has a ‘ring’ and a projection that is aesthetically pleasing to the ear! Solo’s are great!
In Garden of the Gods, I just love Ingrid’s solo in the Fast groove. That Garden was groovin’ on some ‘sweet’ groove juice!! Tune also contrasts well leading into from a contrasting melodic statement! Wordless vocal is great here! It takes a nice counterpoint role. Ingrid nails a very tough modern melody and carries the momentum into her solo. Great Take!
Retrospeak, Noel sets up the tune leading us in what is expected an 80’s Funk groove. Then the tune settles in a contemporary setting, with counterpoint from Ingrid, Noel and Ramona. I love the constant motion of melody you hear. The entire disc embraces superb counterpoint and call and response,
Finally, Rio Alegre, the voice is featured again with counter statements with Flugel and piano. The Latin ‘feel’ is mixed with contemporary Latin Melody. Long flowing lines embrace the ‘idea’ of being South of the Border.
All in all, this disc is a well executed group project, where the soloists shine over a variety of melodies– with superb Rhythmic interaction. Highly Recommended!
[Rick Holland is a musician, educator, author and critic. Visit him at www.rickholland.net]