September 2007

Kenny Rittenhouse
The Francis Suite

This sextet album flies out of the gate in a hard-edged post-bop groove, burning with both power and soul. Rittenhouse’s trumpet work is solid, cutting and just a little raw in the up-tempo numbers, while the slower tracks have a comfortable, gliding ambience that is also appealing. Although the initial impact fades as the set drifts into more lightweight fare, and some of the standards feel forced, the disc’s joie de vivre is undeniable and infectious.

Originally published in September 2007
BUY THIS ALBUM from Amazon.com
STREAM THIS CD from Rhapsody.com

1 Comment

  • Jul 08, 2009 at 11:57AM Neil King

    This recording is a must have for all serious straight-ahead jazz fans. Mr. Rittenhouse's solos and writing showcase why he a highly in-demand force on the D.C. jazz scene. It mentions in the description box that Rittenhouse is a “top-notched academically-trained trumpeter.” Often times in the jazz world academically trained musicians do not come off as being musical, but rather sterile and sometimes cold. I assure you that after listening to this CD, this is not the case with this trumpeter. It is evident that Mr. Rittenhouse honed his skills on the bandstand as well as in the practice room.

    His solos are swinging with remnants of the masters such as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, and Lee Morgan, yet uniquely displaying his own style. As you listen to him, notice the way that he ends phrases with a trace of a very inimitable vibrato that is his alone. The construction and swing in his solos can only be found in the 60’s recordings on the Bluenoteâ label. It is quite evident that he has virtuosic technique, but this never gets in his way as he navigates swinging phrases and motifs throughout. His writing and arrangements are tastefully done and thoroughly contrived. Just check out his rendition of “You Are My Sunshine”, a song that if done in any other style could come off as being a bit “corny”. However, in this ensemble it adds a great freshness and lighter side to the other selections, giving the listener variety for the palette.

    The sidemen on this disc are definitely leaders in their own right. Trombonist Bill Holmes and Alto Saxophonist Antonio Parker play second to no one. Their ability to blend and play as a member of the ensemble is uncanny. Their solo work displays great maturity and the utmost tact and swing. The rhythm section as Rittenhouse states in his liner notes, “Are some of the hardest swiging cats in D.C.” And they prove to be just that. Listen to the hip voicing being provided by pianist Janelle Gill. Her solos are very tasty and she seems to play all the right things. Drummer JC Jefferson, plays with a melodic element that compliments and directs the ensemble. Bassist Michael Bowie, no stranger to jazz listeners gives a deep full timbre’ and drives the band just as you would expect from a known “oak tree jazzman” (e.g. oak tree jazzman-one with deep roots and branches swinging).

    For the audiophiles, the sound is superbly mastered and the group is recorded with an “out front” quality, as all jazz recordings should be done! This CD proves to be a very superb effort from Mr. Rittenhouse. We are sure to hear more from this talented trumpet man him in the future.

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!