Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Trumpeter Steph Richards Puts Out Her Most Adventurous, Challenging Album

When trumpeter Steph Richards led an animated quartet through a dynamic set full of daunting extended technique at Public Records in Brooklyn back in July of last year, rumors were already circulating that the weekly jazz night there might be over soon. And it was. But whoever thought that beyond busking – or a restaurant gig, ouch – Richards might not even have an established venue to play in New York in 2020? If the lockdowners get their way, folks, we will never get to see live jazz outside of a park, or a streetcorner, or a probably super-quiet house party.

Fortunately, in the meantime, we have Richards’ new album Supersense, streaming at Bandcamp. It’s her most adventurous release yet. Her inspired band here includes pianist Jason Moran, bassist Stomu Takeishi and Kenny Wollesen on drums plus his Wollesonics assortment of large and small gadgets to be spun and struck. The tracks here are on the short side, seemingly almost completely improvised and full of high-energy repartee rather than the calmer, more atmospheric material Richards has released lately.

Mutedly dancing prepared piano, fuzzy bass growl and percussive flickers give way to Richards’ washes and flutters in the increasingly amusing opening number, Underbelly. Swaying funk and a little frenetic swing underpin the sharply bursting riffage of the album’s title track, Moran’s majestic chords and motives anchoring Richards’ charging lines, Takeishi’s burbles ushering in a reflecting pool and then a murky stomp.

Canopy, with Moran’s glittery but understated cascades and Takeishi’s signature growl, is a launching pad for the bandleader’s high-voltage flurries. Richards and Takeishi exchange wavery echo phrases over Moran’s sober, spacious chordal series and Wollesen’s similarly judicious accents in the next number, Glass.

Everybody rumbles and scampers in the hasty improvisation Metal Mouth, followed by Bunker, where Wollesen goes through his collection of objects as Richards snorts and strains away from the center over Takeishi’s insistence. Rumbles, ripples and suddenly cut-off trumpet phrases mingle in Matter in Water, while Sleeping in the Sky is a chilly, flutelike tableau with the occasional thunderstorm motif.

Richards winds up the album with The Gentlest Insect, her fluttering accents and warmly lyrical lines awash in surreal ambience and water-instrument ripples. Fun fact: this is the only known jazz album whose credits include someone in charge of “scent design.” That person is Sean Raspet. We can only hope for the best in that regard. The electronic press kit containing the tracks didn’t smell like anything.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment