Sarah Reich: New Change
By GEANNINE REID
December 21, 2018
Sarah Reich is among the new generation of jazz makers—breaking barriers, but also keeping one foot in the historical richness of the genre. Reich is a musician not in the traditional sense, but a tap dancer who uses her feet as a percussion instrument, and one that is highly skilled and masterful. Tap dancing is not new to the jazz genre, but it’s been countless years since the flame has burned this brightly. Reich is the perfect ambassador for jazz tap. Her resume reads like a who’s who in dance. At only fifteen, this Los Angeles native was featured in Dance Spirit Magazine’s article, 20 Hot Tappers Under 20 and she was named one of the 25 To Watch in the 2017 Dance Magazine article. She has performed, choreographed and taught in over 40 countries.
Reich’s appearances in videos with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (A Star Wars-themed tribute, “The Tap Awakens,” and “Thriller,” a Michael Jackson cover featuring Wayne Brady) have enjoyed millions of views on YouTube. She has toured the world with Postmodern Jukebox playing prestigious venues such as Radio City Music Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Sydney Opera House as well as a televised PBS special filmed in Las Vegas. Her TV credits include Season 11 of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance with Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies and Season 8 with Jason Samuels Smith’s, A.C.G.I. She was sought out to perform at Jazz at the Lincoln Center for a tribute to Duke Ellington in New York City in 2017.
Reich’s debut jazz project titled New Change signifies a groundbreaking effort that is collaborative of several top-notch jazz makers in the Los Angeles music scene. Danny Janklow on sax, Mike Cottone on trumpet, Alex Boneham on bass, Sam Barsh on piano, Aaron Mclendon on drums and Jonah Levine on trombone, just to name a few. Special appearances by vocalist Maiya Sykes and even Bradlee himself on “My Baby Just Cares for Me” fill the tracks of this prodigious debut.
The title track “New Change,” is a swift paced Latin tune featuring Reich tapping out the Latin rhythms as she uses her voice to vocalize the lines along with the horn section of Janklow and Cottone. The tune has a solid snap about it. Drummer McLendon adds a slice of spicy propulsion to drive the tracks movement. While, Janklow is particularly inspired on this cut with his arousing solo. A highlight of the tune is when Reich and electric bassist Brandon K. Brown take their tandem solo, they lock and pop in an awe-inspiring fashion.
Another capstone moment on the album is “Baked Beans Blues.” Once again Janklow and Cottone step up to the plate with old school jive-time horn lines. Pianist Sam Hirsch serves up his best Knuckles O’Toole-styled barroom-barrel sound. This time drummer Jonathan Pinson is in the drum chair and he rides and drives the beat with fervor. Reich is in premier form, her timing is impeccable, not to mention her relaxed rhythm that is fluid and focused. She makes it all sound so easy; but the technique behind what she is doing is complex by any standards. Her sense of timing, and the execution of it, can certainly be appreciated by the listener, and most certainly by any drummer.
New Change offers multiple meanings as a title, and the fact it leaves interpretation to the listener makes it even more on target. Reich is a rising star in the tap world and with the introduction of her barrier breaking album, her emerging sound is destined to make its historical mark.
Track Listing: Harold Cromer (Intro); Tap City; Respect The Dance; Ted Louis Levy (interlude); It’s Tappening; Brenda Bufalino (interlude); Revive; Jason Samuels-Smith (interlude); The Groove; New Change; Arthur Duncan (interlude); Baked Bean Blues; Ivery Wheeler (interlude); Scat Rap; Gemini Vibe; For Chance; Dianne Walker (interlude); My Baby Just Cares for Me.
Personnel: Sarah Reich: tap; Danny Janklow: sax; Mike Cottone: trumpet; Alex Boneham: bass; Sam Barsh: piano; Aaron McLendon: drums; Maiya Sykes: vocal; Gorden Campbell: drums; Dave Yaden: keys; Darwin Johnson: bass; Sean Erick: trumpet; Leon Silva: Sax; Kevin Williams: trombone, flute; Jonah Levine: trombone; Jonathan Pinson: drums; Artyom Manukya: cello; Brandon K. Brown: electric bass; Lee How: vocal rap; Scott Bradlee: piano.