Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood bring spirituality, expertise to bear on “Gratitude”


“Gratitude,” the new album from veteran musicians Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood is due for release June 7, 2019. The album takes its title from a spiritual lesson learned. “Gratitude” is comprised of 12 original tunes. Each song demonstrates the lead musicians’ musical pasts and the result is jazz with a faint Latin flavor, but also with aspects of funk and pop. The two musicians each contributed six tunes to the recording.

About Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood

The musicians’ first meeting had nothing to do with music. Instead, the chance meeting had everything to do with a veterinarian selling her house. Ryndak’s veterinarian had sold her house to a musician, and had encouraged Ryndak to meet him. The meeting led to a musical partnership that led to Ryndak hiring Lockwood to play with his band during the Christmas season.

But before that fateful encounter, both Ryndak and Lockwood had intense and varied histories as musicians and educators.

Ryndak is a Chicago-native, and “Gratitude” is his sixth recording as a leader or co-leader. He is a composer, pianist, and percussionist. Ryndak’s work is heavily influenced by world music and jazz. He has played with a number of Chicago jazz greats.

Before Ryndak played jazz, he played rock ‘n’ roll – – managing to form a band while still in elementary school. Later in his formative years, he sought a high school with ethnic diversity and became interested in African pop. In graduate school, Ryndak studied Latin percussion at Northwestern University.

Ryndak’s religious beliefs almost took him down another path. He studied for the priesthood in the Franciscan order. While Ryndak ultimately did not become a priest, his faith remains integral to who he is. In addition to playing music, Ryndak has become a spiritual counselor.

Lockwood is an educator at colleges around Western Michigan. He is a member of several bands and orchestras, and even belongs to a salsa band. He has been the leader of several bands’ CD projects and has been a sideman on a variety of recordings.

On “Gratitude,” Lockwood plays tenor, alto, soprano and baritone saxophone, in addition to clarinet, bass clarinet and flute. He is also a skilled bassist, but doesn’t play the instrument on this recording.

Lockwood is a Michigan native. He earned a bachelor of music in Jazz Studies and a master of music in Woodwind Performance both from Western Michigan University.

Lockwood and Ryndak are joined by Grammy-winner Brian Lynch on trumpet. Lynch plays on six of the tunes.

The sound of “Gratitude” by Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood

There are a number of good songs on “Gratitude.” Each song has the composer, either Ryndak or Lockwood, identified. For audiences new to work by the pair, simply popping in the recording and listening from “Equilibrium” to “Jardin à Giverny” will be satisfying. And, yes, that is the entire CD.

“Equilibrium” is energizing in its rather wide open sound. The feel will remind some audiences of 1970s jazz-pop fusions. There is a catchy motif that wraps itself around the main soundscape that includes horns blaring a rhythmic succession of notes. The nuanced guitar showcase is a pleasant feature, and it is followed by a trumpet showcase. After the powerhouse solos, the calm and cool motif returns. A clacking drum and rollicking, but gentle bass keeps everything together. Listeners can hear how the song lives up to its name. The ending is solid and satisfying.

“So Little Time” by Lockwood, captures a theme that hurried audiences can identify with. But instead of sounding like the hurry that governs so many people’s lives, the song takes its time. The notes are long and soft, except for some strategically placed in the guitar solo. But even those are not strident. The feel invites listeners to relax and think about why there seems to be so little time. Less a complaint, and more a meditation, “So Little Time” has the shimmering sound of classic jazz that, aside from its relaxed feel, will remind some listeners of after-hours clubs and the last jazz notes of the starry night. As the song works toward its conclusion, the sound gets a bit bigger, louder. The shimmering drums begin to pound under the peals of the horn that grow frenzied from time to time as the song fades out.

Ryndak’s and Lockwood’s partnership is one that works, judging by the sound and composition of “Gratitude.” While it is potentially full of themes, it is chock full of interesting music that shows the inspiration and musicality of its composers.


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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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