WRCU Review – Jazz Review

Brendan Young

In the liner notes to his new album, Rich West explains that the inspiration for one of his seven original compositions was an all-night, drunken reading of Ulysses while attending UC Santa Cruz. Additional inspirations include fossilized bugs flying into eyes,and drinking peach brandy in the front row of a concert. There is no better way to freshen the genre on a visual, external level. West markets himself without idolizing the past or completely forgetting to cultivate visual appearance.

The album looks good, but its sounds vary. It fluctuates between either ambient and noisy or more traditional with an ironic and corny twist. The harmonies are reminiscent of the typical free-jazz harmonies heard in groups like the Vandermark 5. The ambient parts are especially attractive when the keys player experiments with spacey, synthesized sounds. The rhythm section plays a nice combination of hard grooves and deep textures. “A Performer’s Objective Is to Put Everyone to Sleep” is the full embodiment of an ensemble (with trumpet, reeds, keyboards, electric bass, and drums) that fills up the sonic landscape with harsh, yet complimentary textures.

If this ensemble took its ability to groove and make ambiance, and combined it with a more traditional harmonic sense derived from jazz andR&B, the world of jazz would be fixed and shot into a new and positive direction. Until then, listen to the tasty beats on “Bloomsday” and think about the possibilities.