Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Kim Richman Ensemble: Live At Café Metropol

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 2.7.08
Buy CD: Live at Café Metropol

Live at Café Metropol is this sextet's first live album, following one earlier studio release; members of the group also have been featured on CDs by other groups. Kim Richmond, once a member of the Stan Kenton orchestra, plays alto and soprano saxophones; trumpeter John Daversa is the son of Jay Daversa who, like Richmond, was a member of the Kenton group. Joey Sellers is the trombonist; pianists Rich Eames and Brian Friedland split the tunes in this release; Kristen Korb is the bassist — one of few women who plays this instrument — and Erik Klass handles the drums. 

As is the case with most live sessions, the musicians react positively; they're obviously having a great time. The ensemble and solo passages are relaxed, and the players obviously are "stretching" as a result of the audience reaction. 

The opening tune, the old standard "You Don't Know What Love Is," gets things off to a really nice start. The following track, "Invitation," is unique in that it's a "spontaneous call" by Richmond; the tune had no written arrangement, and the group didn't know he intended to play it. 

Whatever. It's the album's most moving track; the musicians overcome the surprise factor, and the result is beautiful. 

The CD is split between ballad and up-tempo arrangements, both done with flair. All the solo work is excellent, but I'm particularly impressed by Korb's bass; she's innovative and plays with feeling, yet keeps the beat moving. Daversa is the group's young lion; he's not afraid to venture off the beaten path of a melody and, for the most part, his excursions are positive. 

This is a promising ensemble, and one of the better bands I've heard in some time.

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