Saxophonist Emma Rawicz’s second CD release, Chroma (ACT CD 9973-2), is a remarkably accomplished album, showcasing her talent as a composer, arranger, and producer. The album brings together a star-studded quintet, featuring well-known musicians such as Ivo Neame on keys, Ant Law on guitar, Conor Chaplin on bass, and Asaf Sirkis on drums. Vocalist Immy Churchill also contributes to the album, providing wordless vocals on several tracks.
A Colorful Concept
Most of the tracks on Chroma are named after color shades, inspired by Rawicz’s own synesthesia – a condition where one sensory experience involuntarily triggers another. However, this concept doesn’t particularly impact the experience of non-synaesthete listeners.
The album opens strong with “Phlox,” showcasing percussive vocals by Sirkis and a ’70s jazz-rock inspired riff. The track features energetic exchanges between tenor sax and guitar, as well as a soothing electric piano solo.
Versatility and Collaboration
The album explores various styles and moods, and the quintet’s synergy is on full display. “Rangwali” blends muted guitar rhythms and Churchill’s voice against Rawicz’s bass clarinet, while the nine-minute track holds the listener’s attention throughout.
“Viridian,” another longer cut, stands out with its shifting moods and strong composition, highlighting the band’s collective talent. The album’s closer, “Falu,” is also noteworthy for its impressive sax solo.
Room for Improvement
While Chroma is a solid album, some tracks could benefit from more distinctive compositions. The ballad “Middle Ground” is particularly redeeming thanks to the contributions of Neame and Rawicz.
Considering Rawicz’s potential, incorporating compositions from the contemporary jazz repertoire could further elevate her work. Although her focus on original creations is commendable, this aspect still needs development to reach a consistently convincing level.
Overall, Chroma demonstrates the growth and promise of young leader Emma Rawicz. With her excellent band supporting her, there’s no doubt that she’ll continue to refine her skills and impress listeners in the future.