With Rik Wright is James DeJoie on alto sax and baritone sax, flute, and clarinet. On bass is Jeff Harper and Greg Campbell follows on drums and percussion to accompany Wright’s own brilliant guitar work.
Together, these artists create a brilliant work of Jazz with flavorings of rock.
The album opens with “Contradiction.” The dialogue between Wright and DeJoie is brilliant. The song has elements of Jazz against a rockish, blues feel. Jeff Harper’s base is solid and steady and Campbell’s drums are perfectly complementary. Wright’s guitar work is stellar.
“Sugar Crash” follows after “Contradiction” and turns around a funky yet soulful theme into something tightly Jazz. Wright’s guitar work is fascinating and oh so tight with the bass and drums. At some points he gives a quick-as -a-wink Middle Eastern tinge. DeJoie’s baritone sax ripples along coolly behind. The late in the song interaction between baritone sax, bass and drums is exciting stuff. A super-tight group with splendid melodic elements.
The third track is “Patience.” DeJoie returns to alto sax and this slower-paced song characterizes its title. When Wright steps in with his guitar, it is a gorgeous and airy turn of a melodic phrase. The guitar and sax speak in dialogue, then in chorus, and the result is something fascinating.
“Harmonic Tremor” jumps right out with hot sax licks and a swinging rhythm. All four of these artists work terrifically together. DeJoie picks up the baritone sax again and offers the throaty, melodic, yet rhythmic, line. The great rhythm solos set the stage for Wright’s stratospheric guitar work. I have always been impressed with Rik Wright’s guitar craft but, on “Green,” he turns it on like never before. Baritone sax, bass and drums serve to propel Wright’s guitar late in the song. This track is a keeper! But, then again, they all are.
“Alicia’s Waltz” is a bent-note beauty. Wright establishes a wonderful ambient motif followed by James DeJoie joining with a wistful flute. Parts of the piece put the listener in mind of Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to Afternoon of a Fawn.” Campbell’s brushes and Harper’s slowly strolling base support the flute and guitar and create an image of delicacy and charm. This is the only track on the album not written by Wright himself but, rather, comes from the pen of James DeJoie.
“Wanderous” is a cool play on words for the title and is absolutely fitting for the music that comes with it. Coming in at almost 10 minutes in length, the song fulfills the prediction of the title, also. DeJoie takes on the clarinet in duet with Wright’s guitar. Together, they create a sweet sound of a walk through life’s landscapes, seascapes and dreamscapes. Beautiful work from the rhythm section as Campbell rolls then skips then jumps along the way. “Wanderous” is probably the crowning achievement of the whole album.
“Sunrise Pixels” is the spot where Wright puts his guitar stamp. It is the attractive, stunning guitar solo work that allows Wright to melodically, and so fully, explore the space on his own.
The album concludes with the song “Overcast.” Once again Wright and DeJoie play sonic dialogue, speaking together and then apart. The harmonic playing between the two is solidly underscored by the determined rhythm section. The theme is carried all the way to the end with Wright and DeJoie in harmony.
“Green” is, so far, the high watermark for Rik Wright’s Fundamental Forces. A brilliant album that deserves much repeated play, the compositions of Rik Wright, including the one by James DeJoie, are exquisite displays of precise melody, lush harmony and lockstep rhythm. “Green” finishes the trilogy begun by “Blue” from 2013 and “Red” from 2014. As beautiful as the previous two albums were, Rik Wright has saved the best for last.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl