Ingrid Racine’s Concentric Circles

Trumpeter, composer and now also a vocalist Ingrid Racine is one of the mainstays of the jazz scene in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas. Raised in Ann Arbor, she studies music at the University of Michigan and, except for some time touring with the marvelous Afrobeat group NOMO, she has remained in her hometown. Racine is definitely a modernist, but she can play any kind of music, from the twenties through today. She has appeared on recordings led by others but now she has finally laid down her own album as a leader.

Concentric CirclesConcentric Circles finds her leading a quartet with guitarist Chuck Newsome, bassist Ben Rolston and drummer Rob Avsharian, augmented on some tracks by the electric keyboard of Ian Finkelstein and Vincent Chandler’s trombone. Those who have heard her in casual situations at clubs, bars and restaurants may expect a recital of standards and well-known jazz tunes, but on this recording Racine also steps out as composer and, on two tunes, as a vocalist. There is much variety here, as the leader has arranged her compositions to highlight rhythmic and melodic variety.

The recital begins with a slow and pensive Prelude in which her trumpet meshes, in and out, with Chandler’s burry trombone; the music builds intensity ebbing up and then down towards final unity. The next track takes this up, but in a somewhat faster tempo, with strong solos by Chandler, Finkelstein and, of course, the leader. This sets the tone for the whole cd: the compositions are varied and complex, and while the main focus is on Racine, she leaves proper space for solos by her fellow musicians. The quartet tracks have a lighter feel. Throughout, Racine’s pure voiced trumpet weaves sophisticated tales as she navigates the dense and challenging forms she has created for improvisation. The recital ends with “Stoics,” which begins with Racine’s voice, followed by a pensive, almost melancholy solo that leads, through a short vocal interlude, to a complimentary outing by Finkelstein, accompanied by Rollston’s bowed and plucked bass and Avsharian’s slightly rockfish drums. It all ends with multiple Racines as she overdubbed vocals and trumpet to take it out in a manner that is suggestive of her multifaceted and eclectic musical concepts.

This is complex and sophisticated music that contains many surprises and yet reveals a forceful unifying musical intelligence and that brings it all together, bolstered by a rich trumpet tone that provide the necessary emotional edge.

Ingrid Racine will celebrate the release of her Concentric Circles CD at Bona Sera Café at 200 West Michigan Ave. in downtown Ypsilanti on March 25 at 8:00 p.m.