To a Planet
Newt Johnson - piano, fender rhodes, accordion; Jim Cavender - guitar; Ben Cohen - tenor sax, soprano sax; Nick Walker - bass; Thad Brown - drums, percussion. This is rjr's third CD of original jazz, and the first with the Nick Walker/Thad Brown rhythm section. Like the two previous outings, this music is influenced by a wide range of sounds, such as the early fusion work of Miles, Herbie and Weather Report heard in 'Fannie And Freddie' and 'Mental Gloss', the collision of free jazz with the movie soundtracks of Ennio Morricone in 'New Commander', strains of European folk in 'To A Planet' and 'Pan Pacific' and the straight-ahead postbop of 'You're Better Off (The Less You Know)'. 'Euver Zzaj Gnillor' hits with a strong dramatic impact that is wholly original, and when free excursions alternate with accessible grooves like within 'Eduardo Grande' and 'New Commander', the band suggests future musical frontiers worth exploring. Also continued from earlier CDs is the use of unusual instrumental textures, like Newt Johnson's accordion on several tracks, Ben Cohen's simultaneous tenor and soprano sax playing behind the melody of 'You're Better Off' and behind the bass solo in 'Pan Pacific', and Nick Walker's arco bass work on several tracks. The band remains committed to maintaining a balance between cutting-edge exploratory improvisation and inspired, catchy writing and arranging.