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Richard X Bennett X Two


Richard X Bennett X TwoBest of all, it is ‘heart music’, which is as opposed to the ‘art-music’ that many musicians including some rather better-known ones indulge in – almost too vacuously to be of any significance. And interspersed with some wonderful “bhakti” songs such as “Say OM 108 Times” and “The Way of Love is the Way of Spirit” are three Indian ragas: “Malkauns”, “Marwa” and “Ramkali”. The centrepiece of the record is a two-part portrait of the third person in the Indian pantheon (the) “Durga Suite”, an appropriately sinister and glorious, churning piece. It is not only the piano playing of Richard X Bennett that makes this an unforgettable recording, but also the manner in which he makes the rest of quintet scholarly Indian musicians, if only for an hour or so.

Track list – 1: The Fabulist (Raga Malkauns); 2: Portrait in Sepia; 3: Say OM 108 Times; 4: Where He Walked (Raga Marwa); 5: Durga Suite – part 1 “Durga the Protector”; 6: Durga Suite – part 2 “Durga the Destroyer”; 7: The Way of Love is the Way of Spirit; 8: Experiments With Truth (Raga Ramkali)

Personnel – Richard X Bennett: piano; Matt Parker: tenor saxophone and soprano saxophone (4); Lisa Parrott: baritone saxophone and alto saxophone (8); Adam Armstrong: contrabass; Alex Wyatt: drums

Released – 2017
Label – Ropeadope
Runtime – 57:32

Richard X Bennett: What Is Now The density of Experiments With Truth is replaced with the spare quietude of just piano, bass and drums on What Is Now. However, the album which begins with the profoundly beautiful and contemplative “Vital Grace” lacks none of sense of spirituality and hypnotic qualities of the former recording. Moreover, the pianist’s droning left hand is replaced with an altogether more spritely chordal one, darting up and down the bass register of the piano, alternating with single note phrases played when the right hand of Richard X Bennett resorts to its harmonic role. Often this pattern is broken up by Mr Bennett’s left hand chopping and squashing of notes played fist-clenched like Don Pullen.

It is eminently clear from the very outset of this recording that Richard X Bennett is a pianist who is driven by rhythm and so even in elegiac works such as “Silhouette” the piano – in in distinctive non-metronome-like manner – is still played with a right and left hand pulsed to the palpitating to some deep inner rhythm. As the musicians continue deeper into the repertoire it becomes clear that this is urbane music that seems to beat with a most un-New York kind of heart. Subtle influences – Indian and African – abound and there are moments when we are reminded – perhaps because of the driving, almost chanting right hand, of the great South African multi-instrumentalist Bheki Mseleku, especially on his seminal trio recording Star Seeding (Verve, 1995), with Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. But as with everything else that Richard X Bennett does there is a flawless musicianship running through everything, especially in the melodic department; matched in intensity by deeply-felt emotions.

Track list – 1: Vital Grace; 2: Go Against The Tide; 3: Silhouette; 4: What is Now; 5: Around We Go; 6: Sefrou Soul; 7: Andiamo; 8: Bittersweet Success; 9: Over the Rainbow; 10: The Camel

Personnel – Richard X Bennett: piano; Adam Armstrong: contrabass; Alex Wyatt: drums

Released – 2017
Label – Ropeadope
Runtime – 52:15

Raul da Gama is a poet and essayist. He has published three collections of poetry, He studied at Trinity College of Music, London specialising in theory and piano, and he has a Masters in The Classics. He is an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep technical and historical understanding of music and literature.


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