2008 New Release
Taking a decisive turn down his own creative path, Jeff Richman’s latest CD “Aqua” is an evocative and emotional presentation from this artist better known for edgier fusion styles. After producing six tribute CDs for the Tone Center record label, “Aqua” is his first release of new material since 2004 and Richman felt it was time to do something completely new and self-inspired.
I wanted to reflect the peaceful, calming sensation of the ocean which I grew up around in the overall sound for this album and each song is a part of that whole concept. I really knew what I wanted for this album, from the warm and jazzy sound of my guitar, to each of the musicians who appeared. This CD came out better than I ever expected.
Each musician on this album were my first and only choice because they know how to interpret my music. Individually and collectively, they helped me with my vision and the result is what I feel to be my best work to date. Two world-class and uniquely different drummers, Simon Philips and Will Kennedy blend funk, blues, rock and jazz, perfectly on this album. Dean Taba and I have been recording and playing together for over fifteen years. Abraham Laboriel is a legend and brings a unique magic to every project he’s involved with. Mitchel Forman and Jeff Babko are my two favorite keyboard players because their creativity always compliments what I do. Jeff Beal and Brandon Fields on horns have the creative strength to interpret my music. I’ve worked with Walfredo Reyes since my first album “Himalaya” in 1985 and his percussion adds depth and dimension to the music. Chris Wabich was recommended to me for steel drums and he really pulled off the ideas I had giving me the sound I was looking for.
Notes about each track:
Everything About You
The first nine notes in this tune create a melodic phrase within a complex harmony that sounds magical to me and sets the tone for the whole album. I love the hypnotic groove of the ¾ time signature. The steel drums capture the warmth, vibrancy and joy I intended to express when composing this song.
As the title implies, this song is inspired by the small rural town on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii near the site of my all time favorite body surfing beach. The 5/4 time signature is rhythmically reminiscent of the sensation I feel when I’m body surfing or simply watching the waves on the islands.
A fun, funky piece with lots of harmonic movement. Abe and Will groove so hard on this one while Jeff Beal gives us a hint of Miles on his trumpet. Its one of my favorite guitar solos on the record because I played a variety of jazz lines interjected with blues inflections. Will’s drum solo at the end of the song is truly one of a kind!
The Big Step
This song incorporates three separate feels. The first one has an open quality to it, the second sounds almost like a typical r&b groove, and the third is just downright funky. I heard sax on this as I composed it and Brandon Fields did an amazing job. I used my Fender Stratocaster to give it more of a rock edge. Brandon and I did a few nice trades towards the end.
Mostly in 7/4, this tune starts with an ostinato bass pattern layered with an array of chord textures. The main melodic theme expresses this album’s concept of “Aqua” because beneath the simple melody runs an undercurrent of artfully crafted and intricate harmonies.
Where I Belong
A romantic, soulful ballad, like the title implies ~ something you feel when its so right with someone. The use of steel drums on the melody doubling my guitar adds dimension. The way that I’m accompanied on my solo in the second half is truly divine. Sparks fly and a subtle funky groove sets in.
Storm Before the Calm
This one is the most complex tune of all. There are a lot of rhythms and odd time signatures, but throughout there’s a polished groove. Simon Philips makes this tune sound so simple with his ability to refine complexity, delivering a sense of elegance. Brandon’s skillful solo over a series of very difficult chord changes proves him to be one of the best around.
Peace of Work
A medium tempo, cool, funky ¾ groove that doesn’t quite feel like ¾. Awesome trumpet again by Jeff Beal. Dean Taba’s upright bass gives a wider dimension to the bottom. Its so much fun to improvise over this because the song goes through three different transitions. Simon’s brilliant drum solo towards the end is quirky and rhythmically unique. This is a real fun song to play live.
This song has a majestic beginning with an upward moving, anthem-like rock (ala Jeff Beck-ish) sound to it. Mitchel Forman’s moving synth solo is mysterious, exotic and purely original. I use my Strat again this time for more of a rock edge.
Down By the River
This is my arrangement of the haunting Neil Young classic. Originally, I intended to play my Strat to get more of a rock sound. After playing it a few times in the studio, the band’s creative input led us down a whole new path producing this emotionally charged acoustic-jazz rendition.