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River of Joy: Solo Portraits

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Album Review

Released simultaneously with her album Castles in the Air, River of Joy finds pianist and composer Claire Ritter working primarily in a solo vein, performing a program of mainly original pieces. They range rather drastically in style, though not as drastically in mood. "Song in a Canyon," which opens the album, is very sweet, maybe occasionally a bit too much so; "All in Time," which immediately follows it, draws on stride-piano technique and is heavily influenced in its melody by Thelonious Monk, but it is scarcely less gentle and contemplative in tone than "Song in a Canyon." The title track sounds somehow like a cross between Franz Schubert and Thomas A. Dorsey — and that's a compliment. "Wag Rag" is not a rag at all, but rather an almost arrhythmic and rather abstract composition that flirts occasionally with jauntiness without ever giving in to it. As for the non-original material, it includes two excellent takes of Monk's "Straight No Chaser," a slightly disjointed interpretation of "When I Fall in Love," and a moody deconstruction of "Sunny Side of the Street." Ritter is a pianist and composer of lively intelligence, unobtrusive virtuosity, and consummate taste, and this album is strongly recommended.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Born in 1952 in Charlotte, NC, Claire Ritter was raised in rural Weddington on a horse farm. She was naturally inclined to athleticism and equestrian pursuits, but the piano was an equal allure that would soon take over. Ritter studied with Marlene Broome in public school; she also took lessons as a teenager with Charlotte-based jazz pianist and arranger Ziggy Hurwitz. Attending Sun Valley High School outside of Monroe, she won awards as a musician and as a track and field star. She continued this...
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River of Joy: Solo Portraits, Claire Ritter
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Sep 01, 2001

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