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Greener Than Blue by Claire Ritter

Claire Ritter is a new name to me; though I've found that Ran Blake and Franz Koglmann have recorded her compositions, and she's recorded on her own, assisted by such internationally-known swells as Dave Holland and Steve Swallow. Greener Than Blue is a superlative collection of miniatures where Ritter bends styles to suit her (respectfully, but not "too"), not the other way around. She favors a sparse, T. Monk-ish approach without "sounding like" Monk, and an awareness/absorption of pre-bebop piano styles, especially Fats Waller and Duke Ellington as well as early 20th century classical piano music (i.e., Satie, Debussy, the Russians). [But fear not, Bop-Hounds, she can play that.... and does, in tasty, funky fashion.] In some ways, Ritter reminds me of Charles Ives and Andrew Hill -- she doesn't "sound like" them either, but they all share similar qualities: sober on the surface, cerebral sense of humor that's nonetheless gentle, and they "digest" elements of Americana and the European classical tradition and come out "like" no one but themselves. Ritter doesn't stop there, either: Latin and Chinese influences are heard/felt, but she integrates their "essence" into her music similar to the way Brubeck did in the early 60s. Each of the 17 [!] pieces, though tantalizingly short in length, is complete unto itself, each idea being only as strong as it is. When far too many jazz musicians feel the need to strut every lick/trick in their bag in the midst of excessive soloing, Ritter's harmonious "jazz minimalism" is refreshing as a light spring rain on a warm afternoon. [available via North Country distribution]

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Claire Ritter
  • CD Title: Greener Than Blue
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Zoning Recordings
  • Musicians: C.R.: piano; Stan Strickland: soprano sax, bass clarinet, voice; Bob Weiner: drums, perc.; Todd Low: violin, erhu.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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