Rick Forkes Debut Solo Recording: Suitable For Framing

RockIt Records & Recording Catalog


Rick Forkes/Suitable for Framing

Format: CD
Label: RockIt Records

Genre: Jazz, AAA, R&B influences

Description: Eclectic, Complex, Diverse, Dynamic

Price: $10.99
(this CD is also available for download on iTunes & Amazon)



1. Opus Movente
2. The Gospel Truth
3. Simply Complex
4. Which Way To Turn
5. Isla Mujeres
6. Wipe Away The Tears
7. Celestial Paradise
8. Scrapyard Serenade
9. One World, Many Voices
10. Move It or Groove It
11. Pappy’s Polka
12. Seein Starz
13. Adell’s Fest


Rick Forkes
Patrick J. Barth
Chazz Dixon
Michael Harmon
Richard T. Lacy
Jon Landis
Mark Pannier
Ryan Rossebo
John Thomas
Stas Venglevski



Keyboardist and songwriter Rick Forkes is a musician who has been entertaining the public for thirty-seven years. Brought up on popular music, from Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis to the British Invasion, a turning point came for Forkes with the Doors release of “Light My Fire. ” It was Rick's launching pad into the keyboardist's world, and he quickly became enamored with musicians like Ray Manzarek (The Doors) , Jon Lord (Deep Purple) , Lee Michaels, Rick Wakeman (Yes) , Virgil Fox, Frank Zappa, and Keith Emerson (Nice and ELP).

In his early career, his band Mynas Terith became a Milwaukee favorite for club-goers with blazing renditions of the progressive and bluesy rock bands of the day. They would jump from an Allman Brothers classic to Yes, and then spin into Spooky Tooth or Uriah Heep or from Led Zepellin to Procul Harem. They opened for such notables as REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick, both of whom were regional favorites.

Along the way he learned the works of masters like J.S. Bach, Franz Liszt and Frederick Chopin. He studied the works of jazz impresarios such as Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. He dissected the bluesy riffs of Pinetop Perkins and other legendary blues performers.  

Forkes follows those pioneers who strove for more than a comfortable blandness. Just when you think you've caught his groove, he's off in another direction, shifting themes and melodies quickly from one musical style to another seamlessly.

Years ago, Rick sat in rapt awe of Chick Corea and Return to Forever as they wound through a night of intricate jazz movement. The inspiration from that night is captured on his new CD “Suitable For Framing”, not as a copy of what has come before but as motivation for making a musical statement with his talents.

Right from the jump, with sincere devoir, he gives a nod to his keyboard hero, Keith Emerson, in the song “Opus Movente.” A devoté of the “Emersonion Eighth Note,” Forkes uses it with striking effect, as personal an homage to Emerson as any musician could create.
Not content to hang his hat on one influence, he easily swings into the bluesy traffic of “The Gospel Truth,” a song rich with big sound, full percussion, and slick brass. It features his friend and guitarist, Mark Pannier, and vocalist Chazz Dixon .

Over the years, Rick has learned that keyboards can weave a compelling tapestry on which other musicians may shine. This he executes brilliantly on “Which Way to Turn”, featuring guitarist Ryan Rossebo. The mesmerizing “Isla Mujeres,” a favorite of many listeners with it's Celtic and Gypsy flavors, has Rick stepping back to make way for violinist Jon Landis and guitarist John Thomas .

Jazz though, is Rick's favorite stomping ground. His melodies have a moving quality, easily translated by his keyboards and other instruments performed by his accomplished guest musicians. This is evident in the tracks “Simply Complex,” “Wipe Away the Tears,” and “Adell's Fest.”

Jumping from the sweet, cerebral “Celestial Paradise” to the brash, in-your-face Scrapyard Serenade, it's difficult to select only one best track, but if forced to choose, I would have to pick Paradise as the masterpiece of this CD.

For good measure, and to give those in perpetual motion a reason to dance, he includes “Pappy's Polka,” an homage to his father, who could play virtually any instrument but always had his favorite, the accordion, close by. Sitting in for the celestial Dad, is Accordion Master Stas Venglevski , who rips through this tune righteously. And, as if to say, “This is all you, Dad,” Rick's keyboards barely make themselves known, except for a brief piano solo. This track also features Cajun flavored percussion by Michael Harmon .

The performances of musicians noted in the liner notes, along with the exquisite production and punchy mastering of Gary Tanin , provide inspired compliment to Forkes' compositions and performances on this CD. This moving collection of thirteen songs, special moments from a master, is certainly “Suitable for Framing.”

Eddie Theoharis

CD Review

San Diego, CA.

Suitable For Framing was engineered and recorded (save for one track) by Gary Tanin of RockIt Records in Greendale, WI. Tanin, who won this year's WAMI for Best Producer, also mastered the recording. Let me say, right out of the blocks, this recording sounds fabulous, even if it uses programmed drums and triggered bass as the rhythm section.

Forkes is essentially a multi-keyboardist and several of the tracks are played entirely by him with the rhythm backing. In the seventies he led a popular blues and progressive band in the Milwaukee area, Mynas Terith, while studying works from Bach to Chick Corea . All of these influences surface on this CD, beginning with an homage to Keith Emerson 's “Hoedown” on the opening track “Opus Movente.” It's apparent after the first few bars that Forkes has considerable chops. Other borrowings slip in from time to time; the main lick in “Scrapyard Serenade” sounds an awful lot like the intro to Deep Purple 's “Lazy” and Jon Lord undoubtedly is another influence. This track features a nice guitar solo by (Richard T. Lacy), though it uses part of Joe Walsh 's “Rocky Mountain Way.” “One World, Many Voices” also has a familiar ring, especially in the opening riff.  The CD cover art is a bit vaudevillian and appears to be a nod to Tom Waits.

Standout tracks include “Simply Complex,” which has a jazzy feel, using trumpet samples and evoking a lounge band atmosphere. There's a lot going on here if one listens closely, with Forkes playing some astoundingly fleet passages. “Isla Mujeres” contains a beautiful, exotic melody with the violin of Jon Landis accentuating Forkes' piano and orchestral keyboards. “Pappy's Polka” is just that, a polka, featuring the accordion of Stas Venglevski and what may be the album's only real drum track, provided by Michael Harmon.  

Guitarists Mark Pannier and Ryan Rossebo both bring Steely Dan influences to the material; Rossebo sounding like the clean and tasteful Larry Carlton , while Pannier's playing recalls the more fiery Dan, like Elliott Randall 's “Reeling In The Years” solos and Skunk Baxter.

Though the disc makes leaps stylistically, often within the same track, it still manages to achieve cohesion overall with the jazz flourishes. The drum and bass programming become tedious after a while, however, and with all the other stellar musicians brought in to contribute, one wonders why a respectable rhythm section couldn't have been hired as well.

Rick's Café

South Central Wisconsin's Regional Music News