Scott Ramminger – Rise Up Review
By Tom Faddis
Scott Ramminger is back with a new album Rise Up, this matador songwriter is at it again, with witty tunes that challenge your thoughts and enliven your soul. Some of the tunes cover serious social subjects, while others are filled with humorous lyrics that make you chuckle. This is Ramminger’s fifth album since bursting onto the national scene in 2011. This time Ramminger takes a different approach from his previous studio discs that have featured heavy horn sections. This time, the lineup is a smaller ensemble featuring only five players. Ramminger on vocals and tenor sax; Wes Lanich on piano and Hammond B3, Shane Theriot on guitar, Paul Langosch on upright bass, and Emre Kartari on drums.
I had the pleasure of reviewing Ramminger in 2017 on his Alive & Ornery album (Read Review), this time around I had the opportunity to hear Ramminger’s new tunes in more stripped down setting that allowed me to get into the details of each tune. His purposeful methodology on this album works, it allows the listener the chance to hear the organic nuances in each tune. Ramminger explains “I set out trying to make a record that had a slightly different sonic footprint, sort of a stripped down, more acoustic vibe. I hired a fine jazz drummer and upright bass player. And at one point, with my producer hat on, I asked them to play less like we were at Blues Alley (a famous DC jazz club) and more like we were playing in a Brooklyn strip club in about 1960.” This sonic ideology works, and on this more stripped-down approach the songs are king, which we all know Ramminger is an expert at songwriting.
The album kicks off with a shuffle, a Ramminger original “Thinking About You,” has an easy-going Juke joint vibe. We get a looksee into a typical Ramminger day from the coffee to the to do list, Ramminger is a master, he can make even the most mundane daily acts seem musical. The feel is relaxed, and it shuffles with a strong back beat. Langosch (known in jazz circles as well) and Kartari are in sync, the feel is reverent as Ramminger colorizes the track with a round and warm sax tone, adding in commentary in between the vocals that warms the track. Lanich has got that blues soulfulness copiously.
Of note is the title track “Rise Up,” a modern-day protest song. Ramminger gives it a tasty funk vibe, Lanich springs forth an organ sound that wrings with pathos. Ramminger’s “Rise Up,” is a song of hope and hopefully action. A call to the people to get their shiz together and take back their power as American citizens. Once again Ramminger shows his prowess on tenor sax, which is sometimes underrated because his songwriting is so notable. Guitarist Theriot oozes a strong command of the blues vernacular. The tune funks and grooves with a socially cognizant theme. A highly recommended listen.
Once again Ramminger has put forth a worthy listen. His songwriting front and center as he continues to wield his mighty pen and build a worthy discography, adding to the depth of the blues genre. Rise Up is undoubtedly a strong statement on many levels. Get you some!
Release Date: March 4, 2019
Label: Scott Ramminger