Simon Thacker's Ritmata performs new music by the visionary guitar virtuoso, distilling the essence of his pioneering intercultural musical experiences and lifelong absorption in some of the most powerful sounds from across continents and epochs, constantly expanding the expressive means of his unique musical language. Featuring soul stirring improvisation and a directly emotive compositional style, Simon leads a stellar lineup of some of Europe's most gifted musicians, consisting of Paul Harrison (piano), Mario Caribe (bass) and Stu Brown (drums/percussion).
Simon’s compositions for Ritmata source musical inspiration from every corner of the globe. As a group, they flit expertly between Middle-Eastern intensity, medieval meditation (read more about Simon’s reimagining of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, 13th century Spanish miracle songs, here), Native American affirmation, the limitless expression of Indian ragas, pulsating rhythms from East Africa, the unbridled emotions of flamenco and the celebrations of Sephardic Judaism. The results, however, are more than mere synthesis. Stunning original patterns are woven seamlessly into a new aural fabric, and the outcome sees Simon create his own tradition from his immersion in others.
Last year they featured at the prestigious Made in Scotland international showcase during the Edinburgh Fringe and recently toured New Zealand (full report). Ritmata's debut album, supported by Creative Scotland, will be released in 2016. Expect the delicious shock of the new alongside a further dismantling of musical boundaries and total absorption in creative expression.
Paul Harrison entered Edinburgh University on a prestigious piano scholarship. After graduating he gravitated towards jazz and was the winner of the Scottish Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition in 1998 and again in 1999. He travels widely with many top UK performers as well as visiting international stars and has performed at the Cork, Montreux, and Shanghai Jazz Festivals. A double Scottish Jazz Award winner (as performer and composer), he is often seen accompanying the country’s best jazz and blues vocalists and instrumentalists. Paul is also known for his acclaimed, genre-defying acoustic and electronic solo projects.
Simon Thacker is a guitar soloist, composer and leader of groundbreaking ensembles. He has performed in the USA, India, Pakistan, Spain, France, Malta, Cuba and Belgium. His recorded output includes a CD of outstanding specially commissioned guitar concerti and many of his own works demonstrating his singular musical vision, including an extraordinary backwards guitar recording showpiece. His Svaranjali for guitar and tabla has been played on over 200 radio stations in the USA alone. As passionate about Segovia and jazz as he is about Indian music and classical contemporary, his work effortlessly transcends boundaries, genres and continents.
"Master musician and renowned composer...one of the most talented musicians in the UK"
Eastern Eye newspaper
Brazilian born, Mario Lima Caribé da Rocha obtained a BA in Composition from the Universida de Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil and an MA in Jazz Composition with Distinction from Edinburgh Napier University where he now teaches.
He has experience with all styles of music, from symphonic to salsa, jazz to klezmer, samba to electronic music and has played with many of the leading jazz musicians in the U.K. and abroad, such as Kenny Wheeler, Carol Kid, Norma Winston, Suzanne Bonnar, etc.
"The easy going and relaxed style Caribe promotes disguises an amazing technique." Evening News
Stuart Brown is one of the most active drummers on the Scottish jazz scene whose work also takes in Brazilian, soul, funk, improtronica and more. He completed an honours degree at Glasgow University then studied at Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA in 1998. Stuart has worked with many internationally renowned artists, including Barbara Morrison (vocalist with Ray Charles), Dave Gordon (Sun Ra Arkestra), Israeli saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and ex-Talking Heads vocalist David Byrne on the soundtrack to the film ‘Young Adam’ (starring Ewan MacGregor). His tribute to composer Raymond Scott has toured to rave reviews.
"His world class quartet of classical guitar, bass, piano and drum kit played a stunning hour of significant world music that left this reviewer thrilled.... This was a night of rhythm, excitement and genuinely wonderful musicianship."
"In the world premiere of Asuramaya, the guitar’s role in particular was full of rhythmic and tonal complexities, evoking the music’s roots in the ancient Mayans of South America, the Middle East and the Carnatic traditions of South India."
"You could call it soul music, though not in any conventional sense. As eclectically-inclined classical guitarist Simon Thacker explained, the aim of his Ritmata quartet is to take music from various parts of the globe, strip it down to essentials and render it new, sometimes echoing ancestral beliefs and emotions. This they do with surprising, often spectacular, results."