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Contemporary Latin Jazz


The Washington Post - Friday, June 27, 1997
By Mike Joyce

Ritmo Junction's self-titled album is nothing if not easy on the ears, but unlike most of what passes for easy-listening jazz these days, it's surprisingly fresh and colorful.

It isn't everyday, after all, that one encounters a band that draws inspiration freely and equally from pop, jazz and Afro-Cuban sources, or that adjusts the size of the ensemble to meet its musical needs.

While the core group consists of guitarist Rob Teegarden, pianist Stuart Ridgway and drummer Chris Webster, horns play a key role in sustaining the band's bright and festive sound. And not just any horns. The cast on the album features several talented and seasoned musicians, including saxophonists David Sanchez, Marshall Keys, Larry Seals and Frankie Addison, trumpeters Brian Lynch and Tom Williams, and flutists Tim Eyermann and Dave Valentin. Spyro Gyra bassist Scott Ambush also has a cameo. Deployed in various combinations and settings, the guests bring both spirit and soul to a musical expression that embraces New Orleans second line funk, the alternately infectious and alluring rhythms of the mambo, rumba, cha-cha-cha and bolero, and even some home-grown go go beats.

Teegarden, Ridgway and Webster have their moments as players too, though in the end their biggest contributions to the album come as writers who share a fondness for ignoring stylistic boundaries.

Appearing Friday at the Birchmere.

To hear a free Sound Bite from Ritmo Junction, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)