I GOT ONE MORE! Liner Notes - Scott Yanow
Bassist Kurt Ribak's “I Got One More!” is filled with joyful and soulful originals, colorful and melodic solos, and an infectious spirit. The playing sounds effortless,but this project was a long time coming and almost did not happen at all.
In June 2012, a car accident seriously injured Kurt's left hand and forearm. Even after nine operations "some of the doctors did not expect me to ever play bass again," remembers Kurt. Intense physical therapy and a great deal of determination have resulted in his comeback, though. “Some of the doctors are still amazed that I can play at all. But I continue to recover. The musicians on this recording helped make this possible, especially Greg, Lincoln, and Jinx Jones."
Kurt Ribak played with saxophonist Lincoln Adler and keyboardist Greg Sankovich while at UC Berkeley. "I played with them in the UC Jazz Ensembles while I was a beginner in jazz. I first knew Lincoln even earlier, when we were in the San Francisco Boys Chorus.” Kurt has performed regularly with Greg since 2003 and recorded three albums featuring the keyboardist. More recently, Kurt met and worked with trombonist-trumpeter Ross Wilson, drummer Alan Hall, and percussionist Michaelle Goerlitz, plus the three talented guest musicians.
Kurt wrote all of the songs for this project. The project gained its name while performing "Prelude To A B Movie." Kurt spontaneously decided to take an extra chorus during his solo, saying to the band "I Got One More!" The phrase not only refers to Kurt's desire to take a longer solo but also the fact that he was recording again. His assertive and swinging performance shows he has many more recordings in his future.
The music on “I Got One More!” covers a wide range of soulful jazz. "ReConnexions" is a bit reminiscent of the Crusaders' "Put It In Your Pocket." It serves as a fine introduction to the group, with spots for Lincoln Adler's tenor, Ross Wilson's trombone, and the keyboards of Greg Sankovich, with Kurt and drummer Alan Hall driving the band. The upbeat and danceable original is funky soul jazz that is melodic and fun.
Kurt makes his recording debut as a singer on "My Bald Head," a good-natured and humorous song. “Nancy Ellen" is a tribute to Kurt's mother, a lover of Latin music and dance rhythms. Influenced by the Charles Mingus tune "Reincarnation Of A Love Bird," it has the feel of a hot calypso, shifts rhythms a few times during its melody statements, and features some exciting tenor playing by Adler, along with a percussion interlude.
"Hana Bay" is one of several songs by Kurt that could become a standard in the future. It is a warm medium-tempo ballad with a memorable melody starring Lincoln Adler on alto. "Morning Hymn" is a joyful tune worthy of Abdullah Ibrahim. "'Morning Hymn' is a celebration of life, of being glad to be alive," says Kurt.
The traditional bolero "Sin Dignidad" features a fluent bass solo, some muted trumpet, and Adler's romantic tenor. "Fried Chicken" is a catchy and funky R&B piece inspired by both Jaco Pastorius' "The Chicken" and Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy." "Prelude To A B Movie" is as cinematic as its title, and could very well be a movie theme. The solos by Adler, Wilson, Sankovich, and Ribak (which is particularly powerful) perfectly fit the mood of the piece.
"Churchy Dread" is one of two originals (along with "Morning Hymn") influenced by Kurt's interest in reggae music and ska. It is a bluesy song with gospel chords that has Sankovich's organ as a major part of the group's sound. Concluding the set is "Thanks Julian," Kurt's tribute to both trombonist Julian Priester (a mentor of his when he was nineteen) and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.
Kurt Ribak, a Berkeley native, grew up listening to classical music. His first instrument was the cello; he was classically trained before he switched to playing bass. Kurt notes: "Eventually I realized playing bass would allow me to play many types of music - including my own." Kurt attended both UC Berkeley and the Berklee College of Music, developing a love for arranging and composing while at Berklee. Since graduating he has played in a variety of settings. "I spent three summers working as a circus musician and wrote a few songs for the circus. I've played in trad jazz bands, free jazz, reggae and rock bands, new music ensembles, and in World Music groups as well as straight-ahead jazz and big bands. My first three CDs as a leader featured piano trios." Then came the accident, his ongoing recovery, and his latest accomplishment, this CD.
Kurt notes, "I have another CD planned which will include
some jazz tunes, tangos, and some pieces that show more of a
Central European influence, as well as the kind of tunes we
recorded here. Meanwhile I am working hard to recover from my
injuries. Performing with the help of the musicians on this
recording has been essential in my recovery. I cannot thank
them enough." Listeners and fans have a right to be very
thankful Kurt Ribak's recovery has resulted in this memorable
comeback recording, the first of many.
Scott Yanow is the author of 11 books, including The Great Jazz Guitarists, The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film, and Jazz On Record 1917-76