Summer Madness is a new kind of Richard Elliot recording. For one thing, the cast includes two other horn men augmenting Elliot’s signature sax work: trumpeter/trombonist Rick Braun, who also produced the album and, on several tracks, baritone saxophonist Curt Waylee. Most importantly though, the music was created from scratch as Elliot and his handpicked musicians formulated and honed their ideas in the studio, with Braun’s ultra-capable guidance. For Elliot, recruiting the additional players and having the entire band plus a well-respected veteran producer help him shape the music was integral to the project’s success.
The result seven new originals and three classic interpretations is unquestionably one of the most electrifying and gratifying recordings of Richard Elliot’s three-plus-decade solo career. From the opening salvo, a super-funkified take on Spyro Gyra’s ‘Cachaca’, through the closing ‘Mr. Nate’s Wild Ride,’ spotlighting bassist Nathaniel Phillips, who wrote the track along with Elliot and Braun, Summer Madness is one of those albums that simply takes hold the moment you press play and never lets go. Along the way it touches down on a variety of moods and styles, from Latin- and African-inspired funk to soul jazz, even flirting with fusion on the hard-driving, appropriately titled ‘Ludicrous Speed.’