Freedom abounds throughout the opening "You Don't Know What Love Is" as tempos, rhythms and dynamics shift constantly. There's searing heat from John Daversa's trumpet. Richmond's alto sings. His solo starts with quiet intensity and builds and builds from there, leading to an eloquent contribution by Joey Sellars on trombone. The ending is a sextet free-for-all. This one chart convinced me that this recording was something special. It was that rare occasion when a reviewer would prefer to immerse himself in the music rather than attempt to describe it in mere words.
The program includes both standards and jazz originals. "Invitation" was played without chart or rehearsal and the creative soloists brought a new level of emotion to this familiar movie song. "Never Let Me Go" is simply beautiful, a fine example of sensitivity by horns and rhythm. Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks," once a Stan Getz feature, opens with Richmond on soprano. This melodic gem offers interpretive opportunities for all the players, while "Seagate 1," an up tempo and challenging Richmond original, allows the rhythm section to shine. Lots of things happen in another Richmond original chart, the light-hearted "Fuzzy Wuzzy," inspired by Keith Jarrett's "Shape of Jazz." Catch the interplay between the rhythm section and trombonist Sellars during his inspired solo. This innovative yet melodic session ends with Clay Jenkins' " In Fine Line." This intricate and edgy chart, anchored by bassist Kristin Korb, is fun to listen to but no doubt difficult to play.
The artwork for Live at Café Metropol is by Kim Richmond's wife, Chris Zamon, who describes herself as a "color expressionist." That phase would also apply to Richmond and his work.