Chris Rottmayer – Being (ENG review)

Shifting Paradigm Records - Street date March 8th 2024
Chris Rottmayer – Being (ENG review)

Here is a composer, pianist, and vibraphonist from Wisconsin who had the distinction of working at Disney from 1999 to 2020. The influence of his Disney experience can be felt in his music, as his compositions exude a sense of joy. Chris is currently a piano instructor at the University of South Florida, and one can easily imagine his students being delighted during their lessons.
There is an elegance that emanates from his compositions, with warm melodies and surprising yet captivating rhythms. Undoubtedly, this attention to detail in the arrangements is a legacy of his work in the Disney studios. Chris is clearly influenced by the jazz of the ’50s and ’60s, but these are merely intentions reflected in the themes. Accompanied by Rufus Reid on double bass, Matt Endres on drums, and Russ Johnson on trumpet, the cohesion of this group lends a special charm and sincerity to this album where nothing is left to chance. Even the album’s cover perfectly captures the nocturnal atmosphere of city lights, perhaps even on a wet road.
Indeed, with this album, Chris Rottmayer offers us music to both listen to and dream. The title of the album, “Being,” is probably an invitation to reflection. I particularly appreciate the instrumental playfulness of these musicians, who skillfully balance delicacy and wildness, always with precision. The progression of the tracks on this album even allows one to envision the group performing live, with a seamless flow that ensures those who have the opportunity to see these musicians on stage will have an excellent evening. I enjoy both the poetic parts and the more rhythmic sections of the compositions.
I truly love the musical aesthetics of this album, with arrangements of such finesse that they elevate each individual note. At times, Russ Johnson’s intonations bring to mind Chet Baker, undoubtedly indicating that this guy must have a remarkable record collection that resembles mine. It takes not only a highly developed ear but also the accompanying cultural knowledge to achieve such a beautifully perfect sound and imbue the attack of the notes with unique intentions.
On this kind of album, don’t expect grand effects; everything lies in the details or, rather, the multitude of details that shape the compositions through their arrangements. The search for that ultimate note, which adds dimension without compromising the soul of the composed piece, is what makes this album, along with a few others, essential in my eyes. I much prefer a slightly classical album to one that strives to be more contemporary but falls short in mastery. Here, we pay our respects to these artists, knowing that if they ever pass through Texas, I won’t be able to resist taking out my camera to capture the moment.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, February 20th 2024


To buy the CD


Chris Rottmayer – Piano
Russ Johnson – Trumpet and Flugel Horn
Rufus Reid – Acoustic Bass
Matt Endres – Drums

Tracked and Mixed at Audio for the Arts
Tracking and Mixing engineer: Audrey Martinovich
Mastered at Mystery Room Mastering
Mastering engineer: Justin Perkins
Produced by Chris Rottmayer and Peter Dominguez
Album Design by Zacc Harris
All compositions by Chris Rottmayer, Rottmayer Music, ASCAP