Review: “She Vanishes” by Vicki Richards
released Jan 31, 2011 by Temple Street Music, Inc.
Vicki Richards very generously credits her co-musicians, Mitch Kopp and Jeff Dean, as co-composers of the music on “She Vanishes;” but make no mistake, this is almost entirely her effort. She is best known in the music world as an Indian violinist who has fused her Indian skills with her knowledge of Western music to produce a unique fusion. Misters Kopp and Dean are fine composers in their own right; but anyone who Know Ms Richards’ work will recognize this offering as primarily hers.
Her four earlier CDs were unfortunately buried in the pigeonhole of “new age music,” as this one is probably doomed to be as well. It isn’t that there aren’t some other fine composers who are also mistakenly put in this category, since they too don’t easily fit into any other. It’s just that there are so many other CDs which are labeled “new age” that are nothing more than someone who knows virtually nothing at all about music, who noodles about on his electric organ playing with the special effects buttons, and then gives his meandering nonsense quasi-mystical titles that are supposed to aid the listener in their meditation practice, or provide appropriate background music for a massage. I can’t imagine such works of so-called “music” helping me do much of anything except maybe get rid of some unwanted food.
The point is, Ms Richards’ new release is a unique masterpiece. It does not easily fall into any category, but if I were to place it in one, it would be jazz. It is cool, relaxing jazz to be sure; but it is also sensual, sultry and subtly stimulating—even healing. The harmonic structures are often modal, like Indian music, and some of the melodies are also derived from Indian melodies; but most are not readily recognizable as Indian. They are truly original.
From the point of view of Western classical music, it is romantic, in that it is mostly programmatic, and attempts to describe either the beauty of nature (e.g. “Trail Head (Berkshires”)), or to describe an inner state, or even inner journey (e.g. “Driving Till Dawn”), much like a Chopin Ballade. From the point of view of Indian music, on the other hand, these are Ragas, in that they all intend to color the emotions, and succeed magnificently in doing so.
It is a shame that releases like this don’t receive adequate airplay in virtually any market anywhere. The fact that they don’t fit neatly into one of the recording industry’s prescribed pigeonholes, means that the radio stations that specialize in those pigeonholes rarely get to even hear such recordings, much less give them any air time. If there are any program directors out there reading this, perhaps at a university radio station, or jazz station, I would strongly encourage you to give this CD a listen. It fits in that most rare and wonderful of all pigeonholes: beautiful.