Scott Ramminger: “Rise Up” (2019) CD Review
Scott Ramminger is a singer, a songwriter and a tenor sax player, and on his new release, Rise Up, he delivers some delicious bluesy, jazzy, funky original tunes. All the tracks on the album were written by Scott Ramminger, who also produced the album. Joining him on this disc are Wes Lanich on keys, Shane Theriot on guitar, Paul Langosch on bass, and Emre Kartari on drums.
The album opens with “Thinking About You,” an enjoyable song with a good rhythm and a playful attitude. And its main line, “I spend a lot of time just thinking about you,” is just about exactly how it is with me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Scott also gives us some wonderful work on tenor saxophone. That’s followed by “88 Reasons,” which has a fun, classic rhythm and vibe, and features some truly nice stuff on keys. There is nothing too serious here, this music basically being a good time. “She gave me 88 reasons for telling me goodbye/Every time I think about it, it makes me want to cry.” The line that makes me smile every time I listen to this album is “She wrote them all down so I would not have to guess.” How thoughtful! The tune has a nice little jam in the middle, which I dig.
“Lemonade Blues” begins with some cool, sexy work on saxophone, accompanied by delicious touches on keys. And then, well, there is an important command: “Think about citrus.” Sure, that would be a strange thing to ask someone to do at the beginning of a song, except that this song is about lemonade. It has that old line about what to do if life gives you lemons, but then twists it a bit, combining it with that bluesy complaint of lack of sugar: “I got no sugar in my cupboard, so the stuff don’t taste that great.” This track utilizes that reliable blues rhythm, and features more great stuff on keys. That’s followed by the album’s title track, “Rise Up,” which has a good, funky rhythm. It’s fun, no question, but this song tackles some serious current subjects, such as gun violence, bigotry and poverty, its first line being, “Another school shooting and it barely makes the news.” And check out these lines: “Prejudice and bigotry are gaining every day/Too many folks just shrug it off and look the other way/We’ve got to stop this madness before it’s too late/Nothing will get better if we sit around and wait/Come on, people, enough is enough.” Amen. Then this track becomes a cool jam. This is one of my favorite tracks. Without calling out that whiny baby in the White House by name, the song makes it clear to whom it refers in lines like “Tyranny is on the rise” and “We’ve gotten used to hearing lies from the leaders of our land/Integrity gets laughed at/It’s time to take a stand.” I’m not sure if this song is recommending actual revolution or not, but it’s something I’ve been thinking might turn out to be necessary. It’s kind of a frightening prospect, but someone has to bring a halt to this horrid wave of fascism and stupidity. Interestingly, Scott Ramminger follows that with a cute, harmless love song, “Daisy.” Yes, a switching of gears. “She’s been to hell, but she’s back again/Daisy, you’re driving me crazy.”
“The Feeling When I’m Falling” is another delightful and playful tune, with a cheerful vibe. I love these lines: “I know it’s just a matter of time before it all heads south/But I’m going to enjoy the ride until she figures me out.” I also dig the saxophone, and the way it works with the organ. It is an enjoyable song, and is followed by yet another of the album’s highlights, “Ice Cream.” This one is a joy, and has a classic, jazzy sound and vibe, with some good stuff on both bass and guitar, and featuring a cool vocal performance. “It’s hard to stay steamed, it’s hard to be blue/With a cone in your hand purchased just for you.” Could that be the answer? Could it be as simple as getting ice cream cones for everyone, including the fascist bastards? Sure, this song’s scope is smaller, but why couldn’t this idea be just as effective on a larger scale? “All Done” follows it so well, in part because of the great bass right at the start, but also because of the presence of the word “ice cream” in its first line, “I ain’t going to think about the ice cream, I ain’t gonna think about the cake.” This one has a cool sound. I especially love that sax. “Wishing and hoping ain’t got me nowhere.”
CD Track List
- Thinking About You
- 88 Reasons
- Lemonade Blues
- Rise Up
- The Feeling When I’m Falling
- Ice Cream
- All Done
Rise Up was released on March 4, 2019.