Produced by Dr. Herb Wong, in 1998, this CD features some of the Bay Area's finest musicians, including, Larry Vuckovih on piano, Rick Vandivier, guitar, John Shifflett, bass, Eddie Marshall, drums and Dmitri Matheny, flugelhorn. Recorded at Bay Records in Berkeley, engineered by Robert Shumaker.
Read the rave reviews below!
JAZZ IMPROV, SPRING 1999
The piano steps in mournfully and speaks quietly to itself. Then she arrives - “My Funny Valentine” is sad, a low flute with prodigious vibrato. Low, she weeps; on the bridge she takes some high flutters with brightest purity. The theme concludes and come the solo Nika is classical, taking her time with graceful notes. We proceed, and she turns happy; some high whoops, a rapid run up the stairs, and woven patterns before she grows simple and calm. At the end theme we find her high and optimistic, the birds chirp, and when the vibrato returns at the close, it doesn’t seem so sad.
The daughter of a famous cellist, Nika Rejto is possessed of great speed and impressive technique, which “My Funny Valentine” has in abundance. Personally, I like her tone best when she plays simply. “How Insensitive” has a marvelous intro, and sadness greater than the previous tune and all its vibrato. The direct approach serves her well, and results in the best tracks.
“Naima” features a warm grace, helped by the mellow presence of Dmitri Matheny. They sound great on the unison parts; this one is a keeper. Matheny sticks around for Mingus’ “Jelly Rolls;” both horns are throaty and have fun as they romp around the theme. Matheny sounds like a trombone at one point, and Nika is her most bluesy.
An original, “Song for Abraham” (heard again later, this time with evocative words) is a gentle sunny day, with Nika sounding like recorder at the end. The warmth really shines on a tender “Chelsea Bridge” (Matheny again used to great effect on the ensemble parts) and “My Romance,” which has Nika and Rick Vandivier waltzing in a gorgeous duet. His brief solo is a joy to behold, and a highlight of the disc. The gentle moments glow, and as a whole it’s a pleasant listen. There is definitely talent here, and Nika could make some impact on the tiny world of jazz flute.
John Barrett, Jr.
by Jack Bowers
JAZZ NOW/December 1998
It’s not often these days that one has a chance to hear a truly gifted Jazz Flutist, which makes newcomer Nika Rejto’s debut that much more welcome and impressive. She’s given an enormous buildup in Dr. Herb Wong’s liner notes, and, lo and behold, Bridge Weaver usually lives up to it. What sets Rejto apart? Well, for one thing, she thinks carefully about what she is doing, so her improvisations make musical sense while pleasing one’s ear and enhancing his perceptions. Not that others don’t do the same; but then, there are only a handful of working flutists with whom to compare her - old hands Frank Wess, Herbie Mann, James Moody, relative youngsters Ken Peplowski, Holly Hofmann, Jane Bunnett, and a few others. The field is relatively wide open, and there appears to be ample room for another voice to be heard, especially one as well endowed as Rejto’s. Although it’s not yet perfectly formed, the vocabulary is solidly in place and needs only a dash of seasoning to make it thoroughly desirable. Vuckovich is a marvelous pianist. Matheny aces his two appearances (on “Jelly Roll” and Coltrane’s “Naima”), and everyone else lends resolute support. A solid debut that almost demands an encore.
A great CD of standards and one original, “Song For Abraham,” Nika Rejto makes it all seem so beautiful.
The music is gentle and flows like a warm summer breeze. Each musician stays in sync, playing with such high-class sophistication. Rejto’s style is haunting, yet so very peaceful. The emotion in each track is openly delivered. Larry Vuckovich sends more tender piano sounds our way and it totally enhances Rejto’s performance.
The mood picks up a little shuffle with Mingus’ “Jelly Roll,” and “Weaver of Dreams” which are both fun and playful. The CD progresses through “Song For Abraham,” a tribute for bassist Abraham Laboriel, who inspired her, as the liner notes tell. When I heard “Emily,” it struck me as the most emotionally moving track here, but that’s just my opinion. It could be said about many others.
Perhaps we should say that if you need to cool out, this is the one for you. There are no high dramatics or over-intellectualized performances. The simplicity is what makes this so much more pleasant. The support of Vuckovich, Rick Vandivier, David Matheny, John Shiflett and Eddie Marshall on their respective instruments is extraordinary. Cooperative playing as opposed to competitive wins me over anytime. Rejto obviously put her heart into this project and encouraged her fellow players to do the same. The result is a CD worthy of high praise and respect. Furthermore, it’s enjoyable.
Reviewed by: Denai Burbank
Of her Midnite Kiss Review, read on:
Jazz USA writes: This is another one of those GEMS that pops up in the review pile every so often. This is a keeper!
All About Jazz writes: Jazz Flutist Nika Rejto soars on this new addition...Compared to the great James Moody, Nika once again teases our souls and delights our ears with Such Pristine Flute Playing it is hard to imagine that she is not touring the world.
Jazz Now says, If you don't MELT to this one you need to again kick-start your soul.
"She had an audience of over 2,000 in the palm of her hand. It was very obvious that we had a major musician on stage." Dr. Herb Wong, producer of Nika's Bridge Weaver CD.
"One of the nation's finest flutists!" San Francisco Jazz Festival.
"Nika Rejto brought the house down!" Downbeat Magazine, re: Hubert Law's Concert at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
"Flawless, entertaining, excellent. Jazzreview.com
"Rejto is one of the most exciting flute players to stake a claim in the vast territory of mainstream jazz in recent years." Andy Gilbert
"Nika has one of the most beautiful tones I've ever heard!" Dmitri Matheny, flugelhornist
"Her playing is so strong and aurally exciting, anything she plays comes out gorgoues." John Shifflett, bassist
Nika Rejto, acclaimed as one of the nation's finest jazz flutists, has graced the stage and stunned audiences with her "rich tone and technique that never descends into gimmickry" for the last 30 years (Leonard Feather). As a soloist, she has performed with many jazz greats, including Red Holloway, Hubert Laws, Lanny Morgan, Frank Wess, Jeremy Steig, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Benny Carter, Airto and Flora Purim, George Cables, Billy Higgins, Buddy Collette, and Horace Silver, to name a few. Downbeat Magazine wrote "... her solo brought the house down!" [referring to her guest appearance with Hubert Laws at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles.] Besides leading her own jazz band as both flutist and vocalist, she also performs with various orchestras and ensemble groups.
Nika Rejto released her first album, Naked Emotions on her own label, Unika Records, showcasing her multi-faceted talents as composer, arranger, and producer. Leonard Feather's liner notes set in motion her climb up the ladder as one of the best flutists to hit the scene. "Rejto's flute is rich in long, affirmative phrases decorated by all manners of trills, tremolos, growls and other effects that never descend into gimmickry...Rejto, who was once introduced as a guest soloist with Hubert Laws at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, sounded like a good bet for records with this diversified display of her well honed talents."
In 1998, Bridge Weaver, produced by Herb Wong, firmly established Nika on the jazz scene. Jack Bowers of JAZZ NOW wrote, "...there are only a handful of working flutists with whom to compare her - old hands Frank Wess, Herbie Mann, James Moody..." Herb Wong states, "Anyone hearing Nika is simply knocked out by her remarkably gorgeous tone - something from the angels." Robert Tate of JAZZ NOW reviewed Nika's performance with Red Holloway at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, and had this to say about her; "Nika's improvisation was beautiful, imaginative, swinging . . . anything but predictable; but what we were really hearing out in the seats was how much she meant every note of it. We got personally involved in her effort; it was as though we were making the journey with her, note by note." In the summer of 1999, Nika once again produced and released her 3rd recording, Liquid Love, this time featuring 14 year old pianist, Taylor Eigsti.
Midnite Kiss, (May, 2002) once again features her fine flute work coupled with eight of her own compositions.
Nika lives in Lafayette, CA after residing in Redwood City for 12 years. She divides her time teaching performing, and raising two teenage boys. On May 29, 2000 her band, Ode To Jazz, debuted at Yoshi's Supper Club in Jack London Square, Oakland, as a Jazz In Flight presentation. Nika's August 12, 2001 Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society gig was videotaped for Cable TV. Last August 24, 2002 Nika performed at the Vallejo Jazz Festival, honoring women in jazz. Nika performed for Hubert Laws' Lifetime Achievement Award Banquet in Las Vegas. Since her return she has appeared again at Yoshi's and The Downdown Restaurant, as well as Anna's Jazz Island, the new venue in Berkeley, CA.