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1. Best Jazz Insturmental Album:
Off The Charts
Richard Baratta, David Kikoski, John Patitucci, Jerry Bergonzi, Paul Rossman 

2. Best Arrangement, Instrumental, or A Cappella:
Afro Centric

Richard Baratta

3. Best Jazz Performance

Afro Centric
Richard Baratta, David Kikoski, John Patitucci, Jerry Bergonzi, Paul Rossman 


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by Dan Bilawsky

When it comes to musical material, a nexus between quality and reception is never a
sure thing.  Some choice compositions and performances receive their flowers while others
slide into relative obscurity, doomed to the fate of the overlooked. But life doesn’t
necessarily end for all that fall into the latter category. The light of possibility remains bright in
the nook of the neglected, as Richard Baratta so ably illustrates with this release. Proudly
promoting the ones that got away on some notable records that inspired him in his earlier days,
this drummer and bandleader highlights the wonder in what’s been buried. “I really wanted to
focus on music that I loved while growing up,” he explains.  “And I was thinking specifically
about pieces I liked that weren’t the most popular numbers on some of these records—the
tunes that weren’t as well publicized or listened to or re-recorded by other musicians, but were
really outstanding in their own way.”

Mindful of the fact that delving into the past calls for a cast attuned to the present, and
clearly subscribing to Maya Angelou’s philosophy that “if you don’t know where you’ve come
from, you don’t know where you’re going,” Baratta assembled an incredible lineup to fit his
needs and join him on this journey.  Pianist David Kikoski comes with his own brand of kinetic
energy, bassist John Patitucci serves as the backbone of the band, tenor saxophonist Jerry
Bergonzi brings his signature sound and sensibilities to the fore on five tracks, and percussionist
Paul Rossman proves to be a vibrant colorist and rhythmic collaborator in his four appearances. 
Together, with Baratta spurring them on, this crew brings out the best in the music.

Opening on Bobby Hutcherson’s “Herzog,” drawn from the vibraphonist’s Total
Eclipse (Blue Note, 1969), Baratta and company come out swinging while raising some
eyebrows with their asymmetrical exchanges.  “I remember hearing and instantly loving this
tune, and later wondering why nobody really played it or recorded it,” he notes. “And those
breaks are a little different from your standard trades—eight bars, 14 bars, eight bars, 14 bars,
and then four bars in 3/4 to circle back around.  That breakdown adds a new dimension to the
performance; it sneaks up and surprises you.”

Changing gears while giving Patitucci the first of several solo spotlights, the ensemble
enters bossa nova territory in looking at Joe Farrell’s “Molten Glass.” “I was just entering
college when Joe Farrell Quartet (CTI, 1970) came out,” Baratta shares, “and I was a big fan of
that music.” Downshifting again, the band deals in simple beauty with a concise look at Alec
Wilder and Loonis McGlohon’s “Blackberry Winter.”  “There are two ballads on Keith
Jarrett’s Bop-Be (Impulse!, 1978)—one original and then this one,” the leader recalls. “And this
is a gorgeous tune, so I wanted to see what Jerry and Dave could do with it.”

Continuing on, Baratta gives Kikoski his due on “Peresina,” acknowledging a love of Latin
music and the influence of McCoy Tyner’s Expansions (Blue Note, 1970), and goes full-on funky
for Joe Henderson’s “Afro-Centric,” where the pianist plugs in and Patitucci nods to Ron
Carter’s rare use of electric bass on Power to the People (Milestone, 1970). Then the drummer
waltzes with an air of mystery on Wayne Shorter’s “Lost,” working in praise of The Soothsayer
(Blue Note, 1979); blends the earthy with the ecstatic on Charles Lloyd’s “Sombrero Sam,”
taking advantage of the vamping virtues of that gem from Dream Weaver (Atlantic, 1966);
sidesteps the obscurity mandate by including Chick Corea’s “Tones for Joan’s Bones,” a
moderate swinger that first came to his ears through Blue Mitchell’s Boss Horn (Blue Note,
1967); and signs off with Harold Arlen and Johnny Burke’s “Out of This World,” honoring the
rendition from Coltrane (Impulse!, 1962) with buoyant Afro-Latin underpinnings and marked

After just a single listen to Off the Charts, one thing is perfectly clear: Variety, more than
anything, serves as the seasoning for its success. And given its arrival in the wake of Music in
Film: The Reel Deal (Savant SCD 2186) and Music in Film: The Sequel (Savant SCD 2201), which
both received strong critical and commercial responses while capitalizing on Baratta’s
triumphant return to the jazz scene after 35 years in the world of film production, that
multifariousness makes an important point about the breadth of this rhythmist’s artistry and
ambitions. “The music and film dates were great, but there’s a lot more to this for me than just
playing movie tunes,” he admits. “And in this instance I really wanted to encompass many
different kinds of music, from loose jazz to straight-ahead sounds to Latin grooves to funk-rock.
Those were the elements that were in play in the ‘60s and ‘70s. So rather than work with one
particular style, I wanted to be faithful to that time period and my experiences by exploring all
of them. Having the opportunity to do all of that and share in the act of creation with these
amazing musicians is a blessing. It’s a major gift that I don’t take for granted.”



Paul Rossman, John Patitucci, Jerry Bergonzi, Richard Baratta, David Kikoski          


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THE ARRANGER OF "Afro Centric":

Drummer & Producer


©2018 by Richard Baratta. Proudly created by Marco.

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