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  • Jonathan Widran

BOBBY KAPP AND RICHARD SUSSMAN, Synergy - Bobby Kapp Plays the Music of Richard Sussman

To fully understand the intuitive and dynamic synergy behind, a wildly adventurous, extraordinary yet unpredictable off the beaten path jazz excursion led by veteran drummer Bobby Kapp and pianist/composer Richard Sussman, a bit of their individual histories may be in order. Best known for his avant-garde jazz works, Kapp launched his career in NYC in the 60s, playing and recording with altoists Marion Brown and Noah Howard, pianist Dave Burrell and Gato Barbier.

Decades later, he found a home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where he co-led the Fine Wine Trio with pianist Richard Wyandes and bassist Gene Perla while also reuniting to record with Howard. A member of the jazz faculty at the Manhattan School of Music since 1986, Sussman’s career has been populated with jazz and pop greats, ranging from Lionel Hampton and Lee Konitz to Donna Summer and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Known for his large ensemble arrangements and compositions, his music has been performed by the Village Vanguard Orchestra, Westchester Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra and others. On the eight tracks of Synergy, Kapp and Sussman lead a unique unit featuring violinist Zach Brock, clarinetist Aaron Irwin, tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton and French Horn player John Clark, conducted by Scott Reeves.

While the ensemble playing is energetic and frolicsome on everything from the punchy, slow burning exploratory stroll down “Tweed Boulevard” to the sly, trippy free jazz romp “Trance Dance” and the whimsical, percussive waltz “Whirling Dervish,” this is a project that thrives emotionally on the intensity of its intensely creative solo action. “Tweed Boulevard” smacks us quickly with Burton’s Coltranesque excitement and Clark’s lower key horn musings, while “Trance Dance” lives up to its name via Irwin’s chipper clarinet interacting with the other horns, followed by Brock’s wildly free-spirited violin dynamics. Likewise, Sussman goes to town on “Inner Space” with a mystical and hypnotic, increasingly percussive swirl of ivory magic, followed by the surreal tribal groove and boom of Kapp’s drums.

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