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Rick Crittenden: Reviews

Imagine Jaco Meets Oregon

This is a really delightful album, particularly for the presence of Art Lande, an underappreciated and underrecorded genius who has never enjoyed the renown of other pianists who made such classic ECM albums as "Red Lanta."
Lande and Oregon's Paul McCandless together are a dream team -- I wish they'd form a quartet. Rick Crittenden himself is a fine player, fluid and lyrical. The Jaco comparisons are inevitable -- his tone is decidedly post-Pastorius, and he uses harmonics as a melodic vehicle ways similar to Jaco's heartbreaking "Portrait of Tracy." But Crittenden is his own man, with a sweet compositional sense evident in "Swiss Bell," which is reminiscent of some of Ralph Towner's melodies circa "Roots in the Sky."
This album is superbly recorded. This record should be snatched up by Oregon fans and those who are interested in what Lande's up to these days.
Steve Silberman/editor - Wired Magazine
Crittenden toured Europe with Oregon in 1988, and the event inspired the musically kindred studio date two years later. Oregon members Paul McCandless and Glen Moore join the bass player on selected cuts, and Ralph Towner did the closing arrangement, so the link to the music is direct. Crittenden composed eight of the tunes in the spirit of Oregon, and he designed the electric bass he uses on this date. It produces a softened tone to match the gossamery Jazz-Folk-Classical style that became the calling card for Oregon. Crittenden solos extensively and with great clarity. Three of the cuts are lovely duets - one is with tabla player Roger Hadley, another a dual-bass séance with Moore, and the third in deft support of vocalist Nancy King. In all configurations up to quintet, his permeating bass tone is ever apparent.

Lande appears on seven of the nine cuts. His exquisite piano phrasing and delicate underpinning give the recording its quiet strength. Lande is a highly lyrical artist who takes off into intricate improvisational zones while interpreting the compositions of Crittenden. McCandless is another potent force on the date. Whether on soprano or oboe, he instills spiritualism with his spiraling smoke rings. The closing "bass/vocal" Body and Soul" with introduction by Lande features King on a sensual rendition with a fully improvised melody line having the potential to become another "Moody’s Mood for Love." Crittenden is a composer of merit and a performer who breathes etherealness into his songs. If you enjoyed the journeys of Oregon, you will certainly appreciate Crittenden's synergistic efforts.
Frank Rubolino - Cadence Magazine
Crittenden is a compatriot of Glen Moore, Ralph Towner and Paul McCandless--a trio better known as the band Oregon--and his own jazz leanings fall squarely in the hybrid court the group helped pioneer. The compositions on his self-released debut disc work in the same general vein. Yet the nine pieces are saved from any saccharine New Age sentimentality by the cohesive and combative rapport Crittenden develops with pianist Art Lande, McCandless on soprano sax and oboe, and drummer Chris Lee. Rather than sounding like hired guns thrown together for a one-off studio session, these guys fuse into a real band, sparring freely.
McCandless makes the most of his four tracks, unfurling his improvisations on Crittenden's sparse melodies like spools of wind-blown ribbon. Lande's playing sounds more relaxed and less emotionally cool than usual. An electric-arco bass duet between the leader and Moore is surprisingly brooding, with the latter's bowed drone adding richness to Crittenden's singing notes. And once again, Nancy King turns another standard on its head with her unique duet with the bassist on "Body and Soul." There aren't many singers who could pull off such vocal juju. With Crittenden hugging closely to King's confident lead, any additional sound would be superfluous.
Bill Smith - Willamette Week
Musicians sometimes are touchy about the issue of influences, disavowing any direct effects from their artistic heroes and forebears, thus preserving the sanctity of the individual creative impulse.

Not so, we gather, in the case of Portland bassist Rick Crittenden and his recently released album, "Passages," which fairly luxuriates in its debts to the famed chamber-jazz group Oregon. That group's members factor heavily into this project: Beginning in the late 1970s, Crittenden studied under bassist Glen Moore, and Moore produced "Passages" as well as playing on bass duet piece "Transparent Child"; reed player Paul McCandless provides the melodic voice for about half the album's tunes; guitarist Ralph Towner wrote a bass-and-vocal arrangement of "Body Soul." Even Crittenden's compositions (as well as his paintings for the CD booklet) were inspired by the group's 1998 European tour.

So, from the outset, credit Crittenden with the fine taste and good sense to take his lead from some of the best. As both player and composer, he sounds at home in the refined yet spirited realm pioneered by Oregon and others such as pianist Art Lande (who provides a nimble brand of beauty to several tracks here), where the vigorous logic of bop readily absorbs melodic inclinations from classical and folk music.

Crittenden -- who also has worked with smooth-jazz guitarist Dan Siegel, flutist Brian Dunning and pop songwriter Craig Carothers -- doesn't shove himself to the fore, mostly letting the expressive grace of his writing and the striking tonal purity of McCandless' oboe and soprano sax take the lead; but his playing on "Touching the Stone," a duet with tabla player Roger Hadley, and the sweetly elegiac "Now That You've Gone" stands out nonetheless.
Marty Hughley - The Oregonian
“...Crittenden is superlative on the fretless bass, living every line..his solos are majestic, soaring creations.”
Carolan Gladden - First Book of Oregon Jazz