Chad Makela, who studied and spent his early years as a musician in the US, is now based in Vancouver, Canada. He is among the many who performed at The Cellar Restaurant and Jazz Club in that West Coast city. Like a few of them, he recorded for the Cellar Live label, which was established to document the music played at the club. This quartet album, recorded in May 2004 and first released in May 2005, is now seeing US release. And that's a good thing, because this music warrants extensive listening.
Joining Makela on this date are trumpeter Brad Turner, drummer Jesse Cahill and bassist Paul Rushka, prime players on the Canadian jazz scene who should now get the wider recognition they deserve. The band is tight and plays with great empathy. Makela is a driving, edgy force on the baritone saxophone. He shows a command of the instrument that helps him navigate through intricate alleyways, even as he brings an energetic power to his mission.
These skills come off most strongly on the bop-driven "Underdog. Cahill and Rushka set up the tune with an exhilarating, snappy rhythm, leading to unison lines from Makela and Turner that dwell on the melody. Turner has first go, creating bright lines that constantly change the shape of the tune. Makela's lines twist and contort, edging forward in constant momentum. It is an elevating performance.
The pace is slower on "Seventh Day Rain, one of the best tunes, where Makela infuses heartfelt emotion into his playing and Cahill splashes an array of colours on the cymbals to produce a rich sonic aura.
Personnel: Chad Makela: baritone saxophone; Brad Turner: trumpet; Paul Rushka: bass; Jesse Cahill: