Sarah Reich: New Change Review
by Elberton Cisnero
This album came across my desk a while ago, and my reluctance was immediate. With the persistence of “you really should take a listen” its quite unique. I was hesitant, truthfully resistant would be the better way to describe it. After much prodding I decided to take a listen. Sarah Reich’s debut album New Change is a concept album, with interludes that include tap dancing interspersed between tunes that feature Reich as the driving percussive force behind each tune. I must hand it to Reich, this is a groundbreaking idea in the world of CD releases, as tap dancing is certainly widely accepted in live music performances, this is my first “album” release to review with this concept.
The distribution outlets are calling it jazz, yet there are tunes like “Gemini” that feature a hip-hop approach with rap sections. The album starts with “Harold Cromer,” featuring a recorded phone call to Reich encouraging her to solider on and don’t give up. While the tune “Respect the Dance,” features vocalist Maiya Sykes, who has a soulful voice that easily navigates the R&B funkified harbinger, with her bluesy-gospel voice. Sykes has a scintillation to her voice that ignites the track, and Reich’s footwork along with Gorden Campbell on drums; Dave Yaden on keys; Darwin Johnson on bass; Sean Erick on trumpet; Leon Silva on sax and Kevin Williams on trombone and flute gives the track an electrifying funk feel.
The jazziest number on the album is “My Baby Just Cares for Me.” Featuring Sarah Reich on tap, once again Maiya Sykes is the lead vocalist and this time special guest, pianist Scott Bradlee, who Reich is known for touring with. Both Reich and Bradlee create the harmonic and melodic embellishments, while Sykes this time invokes her jazziest inflections in a rousing vintage rendition of the classic tune. Popping in current day personalities into the lyrics like Kardashian and Nicki Minaj, making it more relatable to this generation. What was most striking about the addition of Reich is she uses her feet as brushes to immolate the drumsticks brushing across the drum kit, along with impeccable rhythm, tapping out the form of the tune.
Overall, though this is a mixed bag of musical approaches, the various musicians and special guests and most importantly Reich herself, add up to a tuneful and remarkable listen. I can’t definitely call this a jazz album, but I can certainly say; who cares. Its artistically a blast to listen to and an effort well-worth merit. Will jazz appreciators dig it, most definitely; but the album reaches beyond the jazz listener to also encompass sublime artistry for any genre listener.
- Release Date: August 31, 2018
- Label: Tap Music Entertainment