by Susan Frances
Artist: Scott Ramminger
Label: Arbor Lane Music
Chicago blues with a bit of Tennessee-mountain honky tonk is the concoction that vocalist-saxophonist-songwriter Scott Ramminger puts together on his fifth solo recording Rise Up. The compilation is a meeting of guitarist Albert Collins’ gritty blues with tunesmith Bonnie Raitt’s roots rock. The tracks show similarities in their foundation while also offering plenty of moments to exercise one’s inner spirit to gripe about life and to express appreciation for what’s so lovely about life.
The title track brandishes a grinding Hammond B3 organ played by Wes Lanich sitting on top of the grooving beats of bassist Paul Langosch and drummer Emre Kartari. Ramminger’s soaring sax sketches sonic squawks above the gravelly sounds of Lanich’s organ and the flared yowls of Shane Theriot’s guitar.
Expanding on the dialogue, “Daisy” is a sweet ditty about a grown man who remains infatuated with a neighborhood girl from his youth, telling how time can wear people down but love persists. Ramminger expresses, “What do you do about a special girl / Spins you around / Changes your world / She’s not the same as she was back when / She’s been to Hell but she’s back again / Daisy / You’re driving me crazy.” The puffing toots of Ramminger’s sax work to fodder the narrator’s youthful desire.
The comfy rollicking tempo of “The Feeling When I’m Falling” has a likeness to “Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs,” the theme song from the TV show Frazier. The catchy stripped down, toe-tapping disposition of Lanich’s piano keys are enameled in the fluid swells of Theriot’s guitar chords, producing a jazz-inspired homey-folk stride. The lyrics have a down home vibe as well as Ramminger reflects, “The green grass below / The blue sky above / I like the feeling when I’m falling in love / I like grits with my cheese / A big ice cream cone / The sound of a trumpet with the saxophone… but when push comes to shove / I like the feeling when I’m falling in love.”
Moving along, the smooth bluesy jazz vibe of “Ice Cream” projects a sleek ragtime swagger as Theriot’s musings on the guitar produce a dreamy soundscape. Ramminger’s lyrics ruminate at a nonchalant pace about a love for ice cream then a distaste for heartaches in “All Done.” The tippy toe stance in the stroll of the bass notes garner a candlelight shading as the smooth sheen of Ramminger’s saxophone embellishes the nightclub atmosphere to a burlesque strobe.
Ramminger’s lyrics talk about everyday life from what there is to love about life, to what there is to feel sorrowful about life. Musically, each musician plays from the same page, wielding a synergy that is magnetic. Though the background of each player varies, their like-mindedness dominates, a nod to Ramminger and his bandmates for playing with a kindred spirit.
Scott Ramminger – vocals and tenor sax
Wes Lanich – piano and Hammond B3
Shane Theriot – guitar
Paul Langosch – upright bass
Emre Kartari – drums