How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Saxophonist Chris Greene has a unique approach to jazz that, although well within the mainstream, is elegantly innovative. He colors his creative ideas and motifs with bluesy hues, endows them with an urbane sense of swing and enriches them with solid, improvisational rigor. His complex pieces flow with a deceptive simplicity yet make for a rewarding and stimulating listening experience.
His two disc Music Appreciation demonstrates all these attributes and more as Greene leads his working quartet through seven originals and six standards peppered by relevant sound clips from as diverse sources as martial artist Bruce Lee and actor Will Smith.
Greene's "The Moose is Loose" is, on the surface, an old school swinging song with, nevertheless, a bold sense of adventure. This is evident from the opening short, punch like tenor phrases as Greene spars with drummer Steve Corley's thunderous beats. Greene takes his turn in the spotlight with an exuberant, tightly woven monologue. Pianist Damian Espinosa's clear, resonant chimes construct a darkly chromatic solo with a modernistic touch.
On his own boppish, "Solution," Espinosa demonstrates his virtuosity with a complex, thrilling and brilliant extemporization that mirrors Greene's witty and ardent imaginative spontaneity. Bassist Marc Piane
concludes this up-tempo and delightfully asymmetric tune with an intensely lyrical and intelligent unaccompanied pizzicato.
The Piane penned "Divers" allows the band to flirt with, but not surrender to, freer styles. Greene's passionate, blistering saxophone, replete with rousing dissonant honks and squawks, rises and falls with breathtaking agility and muscular dynamism. Espinosa brings in an expectant and dark undercurrent with his angular, dense percussive chords. Corley's fiery, explosive polyrhythms titillate and electrify the atmosphere of this provocative composition.
Greene also puts a fresh spin on his interpretation of the classics such as saxophonist Wayne Shorter
's "Papuera" that is perhaps the most inventive. Greene plays the undulating melody with deep longing and vibrato laced tone and seamlessly wanders into his ad- lib, intricate soliloquy that evolves over the group's funky vamps and refrains. Espinosa's heady, acerbic keyboard laces the track with a mystical sophistication that ushers in Greene's closing blues drenched tenor lines.
Chris Greene is a consummate musician who deserves wider recognition. His uniformly superlative output is a testament to his ingenuity, raw talent and exquisitely polished style. Music Appreciation is his most accomplished work to date and serves both as a splendid introduction to his oeuvre and as a gratifying addition to it.
Track Listing: Disc 1: Intro; The Missing Part; Papuera; Institutional Samba;
Nostalgia in Times Square; Clean
& Clear; The Moose Is Loose!
Disc 2: Divers; Solution; Molar Melancholia; Day of Honor; Equinox;
Personnel: Chris Greene: saxophones; Damian Espinosa: piano, keyboards; Marc
Piane: double bass;
Steve Corley: drums, percussion.