Richard Baratta: Off The Charts

Drummer leads Jerry Bergonzi, John Patitucci and David Kikoski on tunes by Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter and others


During the 1970s and early 80s Richard Baratta played drums in the jazz clubs of New York but gave this up in 1984 to pursue a career in film production. After working on over 50 movies including Joker, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Irishman he returned to performing jazz in 2016. He released a live album in 2019, Comeback, and in 2020 and 2022 two studio albums of songs from the movies.

In this, his fourth album, Baratta incorporates elements of the music prevalent in the 60s & 70s – from straight-ahead to Latin jazz and funk. In doing this he focuses on seldom-played compositions by well-known artists and composers of the period including Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd, Chick Corea and Harold Arlen. To deliver these, Baratta has put together a first-rate band comprising Jerry Bergonzi on tenor sax, David Kikoski piano, John Patitucci bass, Paul Rossman percussion and himself on drums.

All arrangements are Baratta’s bar the hectic opener, Herzog (arranged by Allen Farnham) taken from Bobby Hutcherson’s 1969 album Total Eclipse. It’s followed by Joe Ferrell’s bossa-nova tinged Molten Glass with Patitucci spotlighted on bass. Alec Wilder’s mellow ballad Blackberry Winter was done by Keith Jarrett on his 1978 album Bop-Be while the Latin rhythms of Peresina, featuring Kikoski on piano and Rossman on percussion, stem from McCoy Tyner’s Expansions of 1970. Afro-Centric, from Joe Henderson’s 1969 album Power To The People, has Patitucci going electric as did Ron Carter in the original recording – an unusual move for either bassist.

Wayne Shorter’s Lost, recorded in 1965 and released on his 1979 album The Soothsayer, has a piano lead here rather than the expected saxophone. Then, Charles Lloyd’s Sombrero Sam from the 1966 Dreamweaver album showcases Baratta’s drums with Rossman’s percussion and Bergonzi’s tenor soloing. Kikowski and Patitucci are deft and agile on Baratta’s trio arrangement of Chick Corea’s Tones for Joan’s Bones, first heard on Blue Mitchell’s 1967 Boss Horn. The album’s closing track, Harold Arlen’s Out of This World recorded by Coltrane on his self-titled 1962 album, has Bergonzi sounding suitably Coltranesque on tenor.

Herzog; Molten Glass; Blackberry Winter; Peresina; Afro-Centric; Lost; Sombrero Sam; Tones for Joan’s Bones; Out of This World (53.29)
Jerry Bergonzi (ts); David Kikoski (p); John Patitucci (b); Baratta (d); Paul Rossman (pc). New Jersey, 14 March 2023.
Savant Records SCD 2210