River Cow Orchestra ~ chill jazz ~ / Press

“For artistic traditions to withstand the test of time, they must evolve. Such evolution can ensure their place in culture. And culture -- film, art, music, or other forms of expression -- outlasts election cycles.”

“Original, engaging, and touching... Watching this was mesmerizing. As the band played and the dancers danced, the poet, listening and watching, changed the delivery of the poem as well. It was almost magical to watch this happen. It was exactly as described, “Interconnected Arts.” Not only performing with each other, these groups were watching and listening and adjusting, becoming one large group rather than three collaborative ensembles.”

“And now, in the style made prominent in the jazz clubs of Kansas City and Harlem, the late night jam session culture will live on at KC Fringe Festival. We invite you to come experience one of the most innovative concerts you will ever hear.”

“Few groups embrace improvisation as their sole source of music—classical musicians have guidelines for cadenzas, and even jazz musicians have a form to follow. The idea of “spontaneous composition,” as trumpet player E. E. Pointer described the River Cow Orchestra’s style, is a unique vision for an ensemble. More impressive was the degree of relaxation and communication that the group exhibited, given the daunting prospect of creating an hour-long program on the spot.”

“The River Cow Orchestra performs what it calls chill jazz. Every song is created on the spot without arrangements, written music or retakes. If you want to experience the sound of a late-night jam session, give River Cow a try.”

“River Cow Orchestra, Going Softly Into the Good Night, new release from excellent Kansas City based large ensemble. Trumpet that soars atmospherically a la fusion era Miles Davis, melodies that swoon and entrance, dynamic improvisation but cohesive as any soundtrack. Experimental, yet supremely likable and approachable. Their last album was wonderful, too. Find of the Week!”

“Recreating the improvisational styles of a past jazz scene in Kansas City, the River Cow Orchestra lets the music speak for itself and proves that there are a variety of levels at which music might be understood and appreciated.”

“Repetitive, hypnotic, ambient music with an energetic push and a distinctive solo element, River Cow’s sound is somewhat indescribable and indefinable.”

"Although River Cow’s musicians don’t seem virtuosic, they play together, like Dannie Richmond with Charles Mingus, and there’s only unity here: no sectional sparring, no infighting; only common good, common sound. It’s something groups can develop with time and commitment, with mutual admiration. And with a kind of musical respect. The group, as one, plays towards its strengths, in this case a common, unified sound".

“I have seen RCO several times live and improv is their deal. Perhaps by pushing the jazz scene a bit the music will continue to grow and not die on in this century. I ask that you give them a listen live sometime and then post your judgement. There are many colors in the box and some may not be for everyone, but you have to agree that at least they are one more band on the live scene not still stuck playing "Brown Eyed Girl" for the 3 millionth time.”

“My first thought when I heard the muted trumpet motif opening “Inspirational Moment,” was of Sanctuary from the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew album. Indeed, much of River Cow Orchestra’s album reminds me of In a Silent Way and related meditative fusion of that period.”

“As with all experimental music, River Cow Orchestra takes risks and requires a receptive mind set to appreciate. If your attention span is as sporadic as mine, you can listen to it 10 times and notice completely new things each time—I know this because it happened to me. It tends to the ethereal and hypnotic with funk and R&B influences, always interesting, nuanced and musical.”

“Overall, I found the music genuinely fresh and exciting, as this experienced band has presented a varied set with melodic and rhythmic interest, with plenty of interplay and drama. I especially enjoyed the Pointer horn. But, at the end of the day, it was all just plain fun, holding my interest for several listens through the program. CD Review of "Go Wake The Rooster" River Cow Orchestra - 2011”

“I still like my word accessible. There’s nothing that one might hear as too noisy or dense, it is melodic, and these guys do have a way with setting a stage for their solo voices. I have yet to hear RCO live, but after (hearing their last two CDs) "Rooster" (2011) and "Bill" (2012) I’m thinking that the River Cow Orchestra would make for an enjoyable evening, and this will be another fine souvenir until then.”

“Kansas City, MO outfit, the River Cow Orchestra, slips some theater into their music while subscribing unequivocally to a focus on group improvisation and the solemnity of the first take. Trumpet takes the lead throughout, and perpetually maintains a birds-eye view of the music. Keyboards and effects keep a fuzzy groove going. Some occasional spoken word and general music caterwauling. Some moments of humor, though in that deadpan variety that leaves one unsure if they’re being serious or not. Playful, energetic, and unbounded. A discography worth exploring.”

“River Cow Orchestra alters the conventions of jazz. Our music philosophy focuses on collective improvisation, similar to the old New Orleans Jazz parades, paying particular attention to how each band member interacts with the group as a whole. We dismiss the traditional jazz features such as written melodies over fixed chord changes and instead focus on the roots of this genre, collective spontaneous improvisation. One thing Kansas City is known for is the local jazz and River Cow Orchestra is an excellent testiment to that. Their music is not cookie cutter and will always leave you guessing, which is what I love about the group. You can hear the sheer positive blend of all the instruments and occasional vocals/speaking parts that makes them stand out from the rest. After reviewing the second album from the group, I give them 5 out of 5 stars!”

"The pieces, or excursions as the trumpet player E. E. Pointer put it, took the audience through a journey of styles from psychedelic to funk, acid jazz, traditional jazz and contemporary classical music in the likeliness of Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, Charles Mingus, even Pink Floyd and Radiohead. Little surprises, like a musical quote from the Wizard of Oz and Middle Eastern melodies, Pointer rang out in one of the "excursions" took me out of my trance."

“River Cow Orchestra, Going Softly Into the Good Night: New release from excellent Kansas City based large ensemble. Trumpet that soars atmospherically a la fusion era Miles Davis, melodies that swoon and entrance, dynamic improvisation but cohesive as any soundtrack. Experimental, yet supremely likable and approachable. Their last album was wonderful, too. Find of the Week.”

“Inspiration Point is so good. The kind of good where I just find myself laughing softly in the middle of the track, for no reason, I suppose, other than unmitigated enjoyment. I would love to give it a feature date on AAJ.”

“I was overjoyed and impressed by River Cow Orchestra's performance. It was one of the best spontaneous musical creations I experienced.”

“I rarely ever get the opportunity to review some local Jazz in KC so this was definitely a personal treat for me. First off, I love the name of the band and found myself out of songs to listen to quickly. This wasn't because they didn't have enough to review but it was because I kind of got lost in their music. There are tunes you can literally hear the humor or feeling behind the song and that is very important to determing a good band and good music. KC is a gold mine when it comes to rich Jazz and the River Cow Orchestra is definitely a tribute to that. 4.5 stars out of 5 from me!”

“The best song in the world, right now this morning (3-07-10) is… “Investment Bankers” by the River Cow Orchestra. Kansas City outfit. I just heard about them yesterday and I’m digging their chill.”

“That approach (River Cow Orchestra's) was what Kansas City was once famous for – jazz musicians who cut new ground – or hoped to – each time they played.”

“Ah yes, …improv at its best. To classify the sound as jazz – where most (of their band) members have a lot of experience – would be too limiting. The improvisation created newer and deeper textures.”

Cory Streeter - The Kansas City Star newspaper

“They create very open and wide structures and take time to develop things. This results in very captivating music that is never in a hurry and working very consequent to its goal.”

“River Cow Orchestra takes free form jazz and turns it into an experience that delights not only the ears, but the eyes—and the mind as well. As the orchestra begins each piece, it invites the audience to join an original journey, one that begins only in that moment and ends vibrantly but only with a memory, because that exact performance will neither be seen nor heard again. Members of the audience listen as the sounds build and blend and excite. They watch as colors swirl and flow and energize. They feel the mood as it mellows and then bellows. Then, the audience leaves with a smile, because they’ve been not to a concert but to an event.”

Sara D. Seidel Vice President, Friends of the Farris Theater Richmond, Missouri - Letter to the Kansas Arts Commission Touring Roster

“And then the music began to fill the air that Saturday evening. I felt as if I was being transported through time – to a different era, the era of Jazz clubs; where Jazz was truly the “music of the streets”; where Jazz was truly alive. I imagined hearing Louis Armstrong playing away on his trumpet while Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday scatted along with him. The music flowed so seamlessly, that it was hard to tell when one song ended and when another one began! But the greatest surprise was learning that ALL of the music that was played that night was 100% improvised!”

“I sincerely believe this is the best creative venture I've ever heard from a midwestern group of cows & give it my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best creative jazz"!”

“I attended the River Cow Orchestra’s performance at the Fringe Festival in downtown Kansas City. The River Cow Orchestra is a Zen jazz group, where every song is completely improvised and unique. Similar to early New Orleans Jazz in philosophy, the group emphasizes collective improvisation while ignoring traditional written music where chord structure and melodies are predetermined. Although this performance does not reflect any larger social issues, it does challenge how music and jazz in particular is traditionally viewed. All of the musicians have been trained, and some have been professionals there entire lives. In a sense, after they have learned all of the rules about jazz, now they are selectively breaking them. The River Cow Orchestra believes that jazz is communication through improvisation, and that things like swing and chord structure are not necessary for jazz to thrive.”