Mosaic Select: Sam Rivers & The Rivbea Orchestra-Trilogy
The thick lines and masses of sound Rivers writes for the orchestra of 14 horns and two rhythm are imposingly complex, and his creative orchestra music doesn’t sound like anyone else’s: not Sun Ra’s, or Braxton’s, or Julius Hemphill’s. But there are some parallels: to Muhal Richard Abrams’s large ensembles that embrace vernaculars from 1920s jazz to atonal concert music, mixing the familiar and novel; to circa-1970 Woody Herman, deploying funk and rock beats on Temptations and Doors tunes; to James Brown’s static-harmony horns-and-rhythm funk.
The RivBea Orchestra transcends notions of the traditional and the avant-garde; it’s bracingly dissonant, but all about forms and variations. For all Rivers’ idiosyncrasies, big band conventions abound: 4 and 8-bar blocks, brass punches, motifs volleyed between horn sections, focused solos, and heart-quickening excitement.” - Kevin Whitehead, liner notes