CD review

Simon Thacker’s Ritmata – “Tàradh”

Simon Thacker’s Ritmata – Tàradh
(Slap The Moon Records. STMRCD05. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)

Guitarist Simon Thacker has an eclectic range of influences. Previous projects have fused Indian, jazz and classical Western traditions; with his quartet Ritmata, he concentrates more on Spanish and classical guitar, and jazz. There are also Scottish and other traditional forms in the mix.

The jazz elements are emphasised by his collaborators, Paul Harrison on piano, Andrew Robb on bass and Stu Brown on drums. All three are regular participants in Glasgow’s vibrant jazz scene, where they contribute to a diverse range of musics. Though they have been performing together for several years, this is the band’s debut CD, and most of it is new material.

The music appears heavily structured, although there is a lot of space for improvisation from all players, too. Thacker’s guitar is naturally the dominant voice, although the essential contributions from the other members make this feel very much more it a band than a solo project. The is an intense passion to much of Thacker’s playing, possibly inherent to the style of music itself. Each piece builds a lot of tension: the dynamics within in the music work to pull one deeply into it.

Muero Yo De Amor (“I die of love”), a song of Sephardic origin with lyrics in Ladino (a creole of archaic Spanish, Hebrew and other languages), features vocals by flamenco singer Ángeles Toledano. Her emotional singing ranges from gentle to strident: she gets her point across without any need for translation – although Thacker’s detailed notes on his inspiration and sources for all the album do provide one.

This is an eclectic, compelling album. The different elements within in shift as the balance moves one way or another. With repeated listening, one becomes aware of features previously unheard, almost as if unraveling a puzzle.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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