High Risk ‘High Risk’ LP (Jazzaggression) 3/5

Catch it quick as this super rare gem via the specialist Finnish Jazz label, Jazzaggression, is set to disappear quickly and already the 500 copies are dwindling. Originally recorded in California back in 1974, the album never saw the light of day and not many people knew of its existence until the deep investigations by the labels detectives found this spiritual leaning jazz gem. Previous to this album came a limited edition 7″ release on the same label back in 2016, which featured two tracks from this album; the A-side was a shortened 5-minute version of what is probably the highlight of the album, ‘Common Woman’. The music and social commentary gently unfold over 16 minutes taking you on a revealing journey with tempered percussion and space for the words to breathe and resonate. Vocalist Virginia Rubino’s delivery is slightly reminiscent to that of fellow poet Sarah Fabio Webster and the words spring with might and fortitude from the book ‘The Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn 1964-1977’. It really is a captivating and insightful track.

High Risk are an all-female band stemming from California, featuring Virginia Rubino (of BeBe K’Roche fame) on keys, Cyndy ”Cynth” Mason Fitzpatrick (currently found over at Flute Medicine) on saxes and flute, Bobi Jackson on bass and Sandy Ajida on percussion.

Bobbi Jackson’s song, ‘Degradation’, is another highlight from this album with a strong message and a similar sound to that of ‘People Make The World Go Round’ with sparse percussion and keys adding weight to the message. Spoken word at its best.

The classically trained all-female group bring together a superb album with elements of folk, jazz, blues and Latin adding to the socio-political overtones which shine a light on the early 1970s and its relationship with female spirituality and equality. The album also features liner-notes by Poet and author, Judy Grahn, and comes sealed in American style paste-on cover and with lyrics and poster inside.

Mark Jones