Claire Ritter, piano; Stan Strickland, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, voice; Bob Weiner, drums and percussion; Todd Low, viola and erhu
Imaginative composing by Claire Ritter; seventeen mostly short tracks and the first sixteen are all Ritter's. The set has a spare and uncluttered feel, nothing is wasted in this mixture of natural elements and the dance hall.
It all begins with a cheerful lilt in "Soho Rag" and "Up to You," coupled to the fine complementary saxophone of Stan Strickland. "Into Turquoise" waves a contemplative finger with piano and saxophone snuggling up for a soothing chat; "Funky Feet" enjoys the dark timbre of the bass clarinet with a more prominent percussion and a major/minor mix. "Claire's Blues" is a piano solo, straightforward, cheerful, and complete.
The green section of the CD begins with "While the Leaves Are Changing," a flowing gentle piano that reflects a deeper humanity; "Tender Are the Echoes" continues the vein; and "Samba Silhouettes" introduces a Brazilian element whilst Todd Low plays viola to good effect.
"Hymn of Greener than Blue" is enhanced by the haunting sound of the erhu. There are quite a few unusual instruments used on this CD, but none so exotic as the erhu. Yes, you know what it is but just can't quite recall it. Well it is a two-stringed fiddle or violin, dating back to the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907). I think that is enough for now.
The set finishes with "Rising Star," a fine solo on the erhu by Todd Low for this traditional Chinese melody by Liu Tian Hua. Have a listen.
By Ferdinand Maylin