November 2006

Rich Brown & Rinsethealgorithm
November 29, 2006Trane StudioToronto
Together They Are, Rinsethealgorithm
by Paul J. Youngman with photos by Roger Humbert
What do you get when you cross Return To Forever with Weather Report? Something very close to Rich Brown’s Rinsethealgorithm, give or take thirty years of innovation and diverse musical influences. As the band melodically enters their first musical selection, I’m reminded of jazz-rock fusion from the 70’s and 80’s. While I sit up and take notice during my first exposure to this quartet, I realize the formula is very similar, take a jazz foundation, add four parts of well trained musicians who follow a path of spontaneous improvisation and you have the makings of a band of virtuosity.

I sat transfixed during the first number, paying close attention to how the magic was created. The band has a combined energy that pushes the music at a rapid pace, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation of what may come around the bend. A sudden saxophone outbreak, a piano flash of brilliance, a staccato drum fill that rocks your soul, or a rapid change in the dynamic as bassist Rich Brown creates a tempo change and fills the void with an echoing vibrato from his electric six string bass. Awesome! Somebody should sign these guys and put out some recorded music.

I have ventured out to hear live music at what is for me a new club, The Trane Studio. This is a small cosy venue, just perfect for a night out with friends while being entertained by some of the best talent the city, perhaps even the country has to offer. The band is comprised of leader Rich Brown on electric bass, Luis Deniz on alto saxophone, Robi Botos on piano, and Rob Brown, (Rich’s brother) on drums. Rich Brown is originally from the USA, Florida, he has been calling Toronto home since 1992. In a short period of time, he has managed to become one of the top rated bassists in a city of exceptional bass players. During his career, he has performed and recorded with an impressive list of artists from Steve Coleman to Bruce Cockburn. The diverse mix of styles that he employs has garnered him appearances on over forty recordings.

Rich Brown
The opening number reminded me of “Yesterday Princess”, from Stanley Clarke's self-titled debut album, a song with a beautiful melody played only on bass. Rich Brown has an interesting style of playing. He uses his fingers, no pick. Resting his thumb on the “B” string, he will strum or slap the string to create a sustained sound while he shows excellent dexterity with his index, middle and baby fingers, firing off triplets and sextuplets. The left hand will pop and slide on the strings, creating other effects of tremolo and echo. The drummer, in a pastoral style, accentuates the melody on the cymbals. The piano glides into the song with full sounding choppy chords; a funky pattern develops between the piano, drums and bass and builds to an introduction of the altoist. The alto saxophone plays against the groove and pushes the song in another direction with fluid, lightning-fast runs and syncopated howling chords. A divergence of musicality, something that could easily come apart as all members of the band go their own way, the drummer in a manner of tradition is the core and has maintained the path that the players converge upon. They once again join forces; they are all completely in tune and at one with each other. They know where they have gone and where they are going. It is a joy to watch the composition take shape, to watch the joy that the players have in the accomplishment of pulling it off.

The band would play quite a few original songs, “Constellation 149”, dedicated to the stars of the local musicians union, “Forward Motion,” “Access of Excess,” “Hibiscus” and “Black Nimbus” a song dedicated to our Canadian soldiers. Mr. Brown asked the audience, “Why are our soldiers dying for another country?” An angry song took shape with a recurring theme and seemed to be repeating the phrase, “Why are they dying?” I was reminded of recently departed jazz great Jackie Mclean and his song “Omega Man” on the album Let Freedom Ring.

Robi Botos on piano raining down notes as if the sky were crying, painting pictures in the ambiance, of the ravages of war. He would hammer out chords, at times with both hands, other times he would cover two octaves on his right hand and let loose a left hand volley of notes that would knock you from your chair. The band continued to build the marching repetitive pattern to a drum break that was very entertaining.

Rob Brown has an unusual style of playing drums; he uses a traditional left-handed grip but has a right-handed set up, meaning the high hat is on his left side. Interestingly he has a modified closed hat on his right side. During most of the performance, he played with a matched grip. At his most melodic, he is a powerful drummer and has a strong funk foundation to his style. The audience thoroughly enjoyed his display of percussive authority.

Robi Botos
The band kicked in for a building finale of the song that had Luis Deniz on alto saxophone playing as if he were at war. I feared for the saxophone, do you think it’s possible to overpower your instrument? This is one strong player and you never know what to expect. This is also one of the strongest groups I have seen in a while, as Rich Brown said, “Together we are, Rinsethealgorithm.” I contemplated the name, could the meaning entail a change to the process of creation? Very good Mr. Brown, thank you for sharing your spirit.
We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
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Roger Humbert
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