On Red, Rik Wright’s second disc in a trilogy of colors, the Seattle-based guitarist deepens the camaraderie he has for years now shared with multi-instrumentalist James DeJoie (reeds and flute), bassist Geoff Harper, and drummer-percussionist Greg Campbell. As Fundamental Forces, this fearless foursome continues the conversation begun on Blue (released 2013 on Hipsync Records), adding new stories along the way.
Although Wright dabbled in rock early on in his career—the riffs of Led Zeppelin have been just as important an inspiration as the fluid stylings of John Abercrombie—his tastes have consistently fueled a cool pilot light of inspiration, honed over decades in a distinctly jazzy glow. Consequently, the passage of time has stripped his sound to its core grooves. One shouldn’t take this to mean that his approach is in any way reductive. Rather, its very simplicity lends itself to creative improvisational ornaments from his bandmates. Never losing sight of the center, even when the periphery goes wild: this is the conceptual backbone of Fundamental Forces.
Because his reach extends beyond the usual jazz demographic, one can note on Red a mixture of styles. One hears this in his fondness for contrasting elements, as epitomized by the album’s penultimate tune, “Single Angularity.” In addition to being a prime vehicle for DeJoie’s baritone saxophone, its seemingly oxymoronic title shows what the band is capable of in its finest hour. What seems a contradiction in theory becomes organic in practice. Although both this and the album’s second track, “Yearning,” were taken from a live performance on KEXP’s Sonarchy Radio show, that same live energy is also evident in the studio tracks, especially in the concluding “Synesthesia,” a dreamier tune of David Lynch-esque proportions.
Listeners of all stripes will find much to admire in the album’s patient approach. At nine and thirteen minutes respectively, “(She’s so) Fragmented” and “Subtle Energy” exemplify Wright’s groove-oriented approach, unraveling long flights of improvisation from prewritten runways. He and DeJoie (this time on alto sax), as the melodic front line navigate every change of direction with a lucid, descriptive awareness. All the while, Harper and Campbell keep true to the album’s inner heartbeat, completing a larger picture of passionate expression.
Despite its eclectic influences, Red is consistently engaging. The music is edgy without being confrontational, lyrical without being sappy, and atmospheric without losing its grip on melody. Wright and his bandmates really dig deep for this outing, expanding their listenership with infectious themes and comprehensive execution.
released October 10, 2014
This CD is dedicated in loving memory of William Edward Wright, III.
Recorded at Jack Straw Productions in Seattle, WA
Produced by Rik Wright & Doug Haire
Engineered by Doug Haire
CD design by Sasha Lannon Kenny
All songs written by Rik Wright
Mastered by Rick Fisher at RFI Mastering
Special thanks to Emily Skinner Wright, Doug Haire, Rick Fisher, Alicia DeJoie, Brad Gibson, Simon Grant, Kari Gaffney, Jason Goessl, Steve Heuring, Steve Kennedy-Williams, Sasha Lannon Kenny, John LaMont, Mona Larkin, Greg Lundgren, Eric Miller, Ron Peters, David Pierre-Louis, Dennis Rea, Roger Sadowsky, John Seman, Dan & Julie Skinner, Izette Swan, Jamie Wilson and all of those friends and acquaintances that have supported us along the way. For more information on Rik's musical meanderings, please visit www.rikwright.com.
Guitarist Rik Wright’s Fundamental Forces is an innovative collective of modern jazz players who are known for genre-bending
performances - world beat one minute, rock the next, a touch of jam band and back to the core of jazz. Fundamental Forces blends forward thinking arrangements with grooves that allure at every turn. That allure has propelled them all the way to #1 on the CMJ Jazz charts....more