Graham Reid | | 1 min read
New York-based pianist Richard X Bennett has appeared previously at Elsewhere (and was the subject of some Elsewhere Art) because he has been very different, right from our first hearing of his album New York City Swara in 2013 on which he played Indian ragas.
No mean feat!
There were subsequent albums which we wrote about and even had him answer a questionnaire because his musical background is so fascinating (Mumbai, Japan, New Orleans bands, Greek music etc)
As we said previously, if you haven't heard of him – he was however profiled in Downbeat in 2017 – that's hardly surprising.
But over the course of at least half a dozen very different albums of jazz and electronica as well as the raga one – there were also some recorded in India – he has been an excellent traveling companion.
This time out he is in mostly constrained mood with his trio (bassist Adam Armstrong, drummer John Edmond) which, after the chipper and almost ridiculously enjoyable and melodic opener I Come From the Future, he effortlessly weaves his way through myriad styles at his command (always sounding like himself) until arriving at the only cover, Tum Hi Ho by the Bollywood composer Mithoon.
It is the perfect closer for its emotional and romantic qualities which swell up courtesy of the bass and drums. It's a song you feel you know from somewhere in the way Bennett lets the melody dramatically unfurl with effortlessness and ease.
Between those two very different points, we find the trio in reflective mode on the gentle, understated and spare ballad It's Only July, the equally toned-down One Voice which has a gospel/spiritual quality which cries out for lyrics, the swinging and angular funk of Laughing Lion is like Ramsey Lewis hijacking a Steve Reich idea, Vape comes with a melodica overdub which lends a melancholy quality, North Atlantic evokes oceanic turmoil and dark undercurrents . . .
These are all economic and focused pieces – 12 in just 50 minutes – and once again Richard X Bennett, now on Britain's Ubuntu label, reminds you never to try and second guess where he might go.
He's on a journey and given the approachability of this album it might be time to take the ride with him.
He's an interesting traveling companion. Still.
You can hear this and other Bennett albums at Spotify here