Album review

Richard X Bennett – ‘RXB3’

Richard X Bennett – RXB3

(Ubuntu Music UBU0089 – Album review by Mark McKergow)

Brooklyn-based pianist Richard X Bennett leads his new trio on a lively and engaging journey in this new CD laced with tuneful grooves, raga influences and funky patterns.

Bennett has been recording music for over a decade with some distinctive Indian elements. His two most recent recordings were piano/electronica duos with electronica duo HUW, but this CD sees him back to a classic piano trio line-up. RXB3 was recorded during the lockdown period with Bennett’s long-time collaborator Adam Armstrong on double bass and new drummer Julian Edmond. Edmond comes from a gospel background and he certainly knows how to kick things along musically.

This CD features a dozen tracks, all but one original compositions by Bennett. His style is to start with a rhythm/chord pattern and build out from it, exploring changes in voicing, emphasis and embellishment. There might also be a ‘break’ section coming in for a change of gear. The results are very listenable and enjoyably energetic, with lots of natural bounce and flair. The opening I Come From The Future starts with a falling figure which sits atop a shuffling loping rhythm before shifting attractively across a series of chords. This Is My Code is a funkier affair, an ostinato figure holding it all down in the left hand giving some space for Armstong to range out on his double bass.

There are ballady numbers too – It’s Only July slides limpidly along waiting for the director of a film about Matisse’s Waterlilies to snap it up. Made From Stone, on the other hand is rooted on a bass riff with a swaggering shuffle of a piano line, surely rattling along the railway lines of the sunny southern states of the USA. All Organic appears in a stuttering waltz time, beefy bottom end notes clustering underneath slipped quavers to keep everyone on their toes. Bennett’s style is full of block chords which fill out the music – perhaps a bit more space occasionally might give more contrast.

The only non-original tune, Tum Hi Ho, is an interesting choice. A Bollywood standard written by Indian director, composer and singer Mithoon for his film Aashiqui 2, the tune has a majestic feel and a space which offers a fine conclusion to the album. RXB3 is very accessible and well worth checking out. It offers an intriguing combination – perhaps something like Ramsey Lewis and GoGo Penguin on a boat on the river Ganges waving to Steve Reich and having a crazy time as the sun sets.

Have a listen and see what you think.

RXB3 is released today 28 May 2021

Link: Richard X Bennett at Ubuntu Music

Categories: Album review

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