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Album Review: By Rowdy Creek
Beverly Ritz
Cover image of the album By Rowdy Creek by Beverly Ritz
By Rowdy Creek
Beverly Ritz
2006 / Goldie Mae Records
41 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
By Rowdy Creek is a soothing and relaxing collection of ten original piano solos by jazz pianist/composer Beverly Ritz. Living in northern California near the Oregon border, Ritz’s love of nature and the ocean is apparent in many of her song titles as well as her gentle rhythms and laid-back style. On a mission to preserve jazz standards and other beautiful music, Ritz’s music is readily accessible to most listeners yet complex enough to fascinate a more discerning ear. Hers is not the smooth jazz “fluff” that seems to be just about everywhere; this is music from the heart of someone who has been playing music since she was three years old and is completely at ease with the piano.

The title track opens the set. Despite the “rowdy” title, this piece is smooth and very much at peace. I get a mental image of someone lying in the sun next to the creek in that blissful state between falling asleep and being awake enough to enjoy the sun’s warmth and the tranquility of the sounds of the creek. “Under the Redwood Tree” has a similar mood, although the music is different - a soothing musical daydream. “A Distant Dream” picks up the tempo a bit although it is still very relaxed and contented. The strong melody of “Aren’t You the One?” suggests that perhaps this lovely song has lyrics, but Ritz plays it so conversationally that words really aren’t needed - we understand what she is telling us. “In A Hurricane” was composed to honor those who died in the New Orleans nursing home during Hurricane Katrina. Far from funereal, this lovely piece is much more of a heartfelt tribute than an elegy. I love “The Cat In the Forest.” Alternately adventurous, cautious, and a little bit lost, the piece is graceful and gently rhythmic - a beauty! I also love the elegant, easy grace of “Dreams Danced (In the Sky),” which gives me visions of light, airy clouds swirling in a crystal blue sky. There are some dense, intricate chords in this piece that make it a real standout. Ritz saved the best for last (in my ears, anyway!), closing with “The River and the Sea.” I’ve sat and watched quite a few rivers flow into the ocean and this piece captures the serenity of that experience - gorgeous!

If you haven’t yet discovered the music of Beverly Ritz, this is a great place to start! By Rowdy Creek is available from ritzymusic.com, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Highly recommended!
February 16, 2010
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