Sam Rivers/Rivbea Orchestra- Trilogy box set recommendation

I can’t help in reveling in the fact that a certified, filigreed jazzbo could have a local yokel in Orlando claim to have seen Sam Rivers’ Rivbea Orchestra dozens of times and there be no hyperbole in the statement. Soon after Rivers’ 1991 arrival in Orlando, he made his initial orchestra rehearsals (much to my amazement) open to all comers. By the spring and summer of 1995, Sam’s trio and orchestra with Doug Mathews and Anthony Cole were drawing hundreds of locals to roughly bi-monthly bacchanalian,  funky, while atonal concerts in Florida. Using his considerable momentum, Rivers started a regular Wednesday night residency at Orlando’s Sapphire Supper Club during the summer of 2001, moving to the original Will’s Pub during the summer of 2004, and on to the Plaza Theatre in 2007. These residency shows stood in the for the Orchestra’s Wednesday evening rehearsals and offered the audiences both a greater sense of Rivers’ derring-do and a familial informality to his approach. The band were often sight-reading both numbered, unnamed compositions with barely dried ink, and compositions dating back to the early 1960s. 16 bar sections would be stripped bare, run down separately by each section, before the official downbeat or after a Rivers’ signal to put the brakes on. Ritual, still, remained, with compositions like Jubilation and Willow acting as thematic set bookends during the Will’s run. Before these residencies, the Orchestra’s Aurora cd was recorded in town with Sam’s long-standing Orlando ensemble three weeks previous to the two-day Rivbea All-Star Orchestra session in Brooklyn that yielded the RCA-Victor Inspiration and Culmination releases. The two-suite Aurora was specifically studio-produced to replicate a listener’s front and center witness at one of Rivers’ amplified club performances in Orlando- mildly overloaded and narcotic sound pressure brought to bear. Once those three recordings were released, adding to Impulse! Records’ 1974 Crystals, Rivers now had four Rivbea Orchestra releases, barely denting the total body of Sam’s hundreds of jazz orchestra compositions. This point brings an additional eminence to the 2011 Trilogy cd box set from the esteemed mailorder-centric Mosaic Records. The 5000 copies limited release adds three more themed albums to reduce the released-to-obscurity ratio of Rivers’ roomful of orchestral sheet music. Disc one and three of Trilogy, Offering and Edge respectively, catch the 2008-era band during a hot streak at the Plaza Theatre. Disc two captures yet another suite (the two-suite studio-recorded Planets and Moons is still in the can), this time the family women love-letter Progeny studio set- an extension of his renown Beatrice composition.  The Progeny disc has an observable mid-tempo Latin ballad feel running through much of the set, offering some of the most approachable melodies and counterpoint from Rivers’ always (barely a lie) flowing pen. Offering and Edge ably capture the short, sharp shock and astral meditation of two residency concerts. There is a palpable lack of potential flop sweat from the band, the red recording light merely a documentarian’s province, with Sam and the audience becoming the tacit recipients of their collective un/subconscious. This set is a hardy cm5 recommends posting, aided by Mosaic Records’ great care and sense of respect that they bring to every project approached and realized. The label’s careful mastering, honest licenses/artist pay, detailed musician credits and archival photos always join an extensive set of liner notes, this time, intuitively from Fresh Air with Terry Gross reviewer Kevin Whitehead. In a time of terrible investments, Mosaic limited edition sets seem impervious to depreciation, exemplified by Rivers long out-of-print Blue Note box . In this bear market, Mosaic’s Sam Rivers & The Rivbea Orchestra- Trilogy set is a recommended buy. – Matt Gorney

2 thoughts on “Sam Rivers/Rivbea Orchestra- Trilogy box set recommendation

  1. i like we as recepticles of smearable hardy restless unconscious. let’s hope derring-do doesnt lead us to imperviousness. great pages!


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