The New Sam Rivers Rivbea Orchestra

The New Sam Rivers' RivBea Orchestra

The New Sam Rivers’ Rivbea Orchestra will consist of 16 members; 13 horn players, bass, drums and guitar. Doug Mathews, who acts as the orchestra leader, said that in the years before his passing Sam would mention a musician performing “Sam’s book”, or Sam Rivers’ individual parts to his compositions, should be played by guitar, keyboard or vibes. Sam would say that he didn’t want another saxophone player to deal with the inevitable comparisons that would come along with performing his parts. He wanted different instrumentation for his “book” in the future. For this reason longtime Sam Rivers collaborator Bobby Koelble will be performing Sam Rivers’ parts on guitar. This change should bring a somewhat different sound to The New Sam Rivers Rivbea Orchestra and an exciting take on Sam Rivers’ compositions.

"Anthony Braxton used to point out how multi-vectored, multi-layered music would prepare us for the very kind of world we're living in now, when information streams from multiple devices bombard before we're out of bed. Heard from that perspective, the music of Sam Rivers' RivBea Orchestra is a mirror of modern urban life. There are towering edifices on all sides, and a teeming population thriving within and between.

The thick lines and masses of sound Rivers writes for the orchestra of 14 horns and two rhythm are imposingly complex, and his creative orchestra music doesn't sound like anyone else's: not Sun Ra's, or Braxton's, or Julius Hemphill's. But there are some parallels: to Muhal Richard Abrams's large ensembles that embrace vernaculars from 1920s jazz to atonal concert music, mixing the familiar and novel; to circa-1970 Woody Herman, deploying funk and rock beats on Temptations and Doors tunes; to James Brown's static-harmony horns-and-rhythm funk.

The RivBea Orchestra transcends notions of the traditional and the avant-garde; it's bracingly dissonant, but all about forms and variations. For all Rivers' idiosyncrasies, big band conventions abound: 4 and 8-bar blocks, brass punches, motifs volleyed between horn sections, focused solos, and heart-quickening excitement." - Kevin Whitehead, liner notes

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