The twenty-four piece Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra boasts a full roster of instrumentation, including double reeds and French horns, for a sound that is somewhat rare in the professional jazz world, but familiar to anyone guiding a child through a high school music program with a "concert band." Lush and multi-layered, Refractions contains a full range of color and emotion.
The word "symphonic" comes to mind with so many deftly-woven textures underlying the free-swinging improvisations; the classical ideas married to jazz spontaneity; and the tunes laid down live, no overdubs, retaining their feel of freshness and freedom. Saxophonist Kim Richmond fits into the Gil Evans/Bill Holman/Don Sebesky school of expansive arrangement, and Refractions can sit on the shelf alongside anything those giants have done.
The Victor Young classic "Stella by Starlight" opens with a fanfare-ish trumpet leading into the familiar melody floating on a woodwind cloud, until it gets tethered down by the gravitational tug of Joey Sellers' trombone solo. The the Richmond-penned "Franz" (based on the first four notes of Franz Schubert's "Seranade," sounds classical, underlaid with an exotic rhythmic groove.
"Fantasy on You Must Believe in Spring" unfolds with a swirling-yet-subtle grandeur supplied by a pastel wash of flute, French horn and double reeds, and an introspectively lush piano opening by guest Bob Florence. The opener, "Cultural Obscurity," eases in with a pensive mood that soon swells into a dark-hued fanfare before it settles into an intricately-arranged theme.
This disc is on par with those of the masters of the genre; and I don't know if the Los Angeles-based Richmond works in the movies or for television, but his compositions seem tailor- made for cinematic treatment, full of strong story lines with numerous facinating subtexts. A grand set of sounds.