Rik Wright is a true musical chameleon: adapting to a wide musical spectrum within the same body of influences. Listeners will discern a jazz foundation, a solid infrastructure of rock, and binding it all a voice so original that it cannot be called either.
The Seattle-based guitarist has been riding a wave of inspiration ever since the release of Blue in 2013, when he embarked on a trilogy of primary colors. Over the next two years, an organic, groove-oriented style emerged as Wright imprinted his compositional voice across a songbook of robust themes and improvisations. Each album shimmers in its own hue—Blue being the moodier firstborn, Red (2014) more angular and dynamic, and Green (2015) the most cultured of them all. Together, they serve a larger vision that no one but Wright and his trusted musicians could bring so vividly to life.
With those musicians—multi-instrumentalist James DeJoie, bassist Geoff Harper, and drummer-percussionist Greg Campbell—Wright has shared deepening rapport for the better part of five years. As Fundamental Forces, they interchange jazz-oriented freedoms and rock band rigor, a rare combination. Yet their music goes beyond the mere fusions such a characterization implies, for Wright bears the mark of a generation that dissolved bridges between genres.
Like the forces driving them, Wright’s tunes are themselves fundamental, each a yin and yang of progression and reflection. The colors trilogy has held its own in the CMJ Jazz Radio Top 40 charts, with two of them occupying Top 10 slots. Like jigsaw pieces, each fits seamlessly into the next by means of its distinct shape. Such gapless syntheses have earned Wright critical praise across the board, prompting AXS to proclaim, “Wright’s music is innovative, paving a path of his own making through the jazz kaleidoscope. Eclectic sounding with a flair for the exotic, Fundamental Forces is artistically imaginative and ventures into synthesizing a breed of blues, bebop, and rock that expands the public’s perception of jazz.”
Perception is certainly the name of the game in his latest effort, Subtle Energy, set to hit the airwaves in 2016, wearing all the band’s hallmarks on its comfortable sleeve. A live recording of delicacies from the color trilogy, it is at once culmination and tipping point as Wright and friends ride the wavelengths into new frontiers.
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