Ramona Borthwick is for me a complete artist. I have known her for several years as a web designer and my personal webmaster, but I have also been aware of her work as a musician. Recently I got a copy of her new musical adventure called ‘One of Us’ and I am extremely happy to witness Ramona’s growth as a composer and pianist, adding to this she also sings, and well. ‘One of Us’is a very nice tapestry of different musical paintings and moods.
Ramona’s compositions are really captivating as she moves along many different lines, sometimes Latin flavors, sometimes European airs, but always with her very personal touch. The choice of musicians that complete this musical endeavor could not have been better. Each one of the performers does fantastic work enhancing Ramona’s compositions. My special kudos go to Noel Borthwick (Ramona’s husband) who plays some of the most exquisite guitar I have heard in a long time, reminding me sometimes of the best work that I have heard from guitar greats (Pat Martino comes to mind). ‘One of Us’ is an album that you can listen to many times, always getting new and rewarding things from.
I really hope that this effort becomes a must listen to, for jazz lovers around the world, such as myself, a pianist and composer from México City. My most sincere congratulations to Ramona and her team for making such a great album that I am sure, will endure the passing of time and become a collector’s item in the jazz music world.
Dr. Rick – Ramona, please give us some of your background. Tell us where you studied music, maybe some of your biggest influences as a student of music.
Ramona – I grew up in Bombay, India where I had most of my formal musical training. Born into a musician’s family I was fortunate to have had private piano lessons in classical music twice a week starting at the age of six. In addition to practicing the instrument, assignments in music theory and history were aplenty. In junior high I got good enough to sub at school for the music teacher when she called in sick 🙂 This was my first solo gig playing experience, it was stress-free and a lot of fun. My listening and playing revolved around classical music during these years; in particular I enjoyed practicing Bach, Debussy and Bartok. Aside from some Brubeck and Jobim albums that were part of my Dad’s collection, I wasn’t really exposed to much jazz then. I also grew up listening to church music – Anglican hymns, psalms and choral works, and at sixteen was pumping the pedals of the old reed organ at church during choir practices and services. Hearing such rich harmonies and elegant vocal parts may have been instrumental in steering me toward the multi-layered, polyphonic style of writing I do today. Lastly there was an ubiquitous presence of film music in the background, which my father, a studio musician and arranger wrote – a blend of traditional and folk music tailored for Bollywood films. So while I didn’t actively study or play it, I was exposed to a fair amount of Indian folk and classical music. Later as a teenager, I heard Corea’s ‘Light As A Feather’ which may have been instrumental in changing my focus from classical music to the unknown and infinitely more challenging world of jazz and improvisation. I’d say my best teachers were all the jazz players whose music I transcribed, analyzed and tried to imitate.
“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.
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
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).
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.