Inspiration Sam Rivers ' Rivbea All-Star Orchestra. RCA Victor, 1999. A jazz iconoclast who has collaborated with musical freethinkers from Miles Davis to Cecil Taylor, conductor and saxophonist Sam Rivers never seems to do a song the same way twice. Imagine funk idol Maceo Parker falling under the sway of abstract expressionism, and you have an idea of how Rivers' new album combines aggressive dissonance, tricky rhythms, and unconventional grooves.
Rivers' compositions swell to jarring climaxes before suddenly falling away to leave wide-open solo space for the orchestra's all-star improvisers. Beneath the cacophonous exterior of tunes like "Solace" and "Nebula" lie warmly melodic themes--this in an era when many jazz experimentalists seem to distrust lyricism. At 77, Rivers has produced an album that any audacious young avant-gardiste would envy.