Fred Hess Quartet: Crossed Paths (2005)
Crossed Paths is the second release by this particular group, and it moves the vision of last year's excellent The Long and Short of It (also on Tapestry) ahead a notch or two. Their soundfor an ear that listens to a great deal of free jazzfeels very approachable and melodic. The two horn (sax and trumpet) lineup without a chording instrument was pioneered by baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and pushed to the outer limits by altoist Ornette Coleman and trumpeter Don Cherry; and now Fred Hess and company push things around a bit and give the sound their own distinct collective personality.
A constant in Hess' three Tapestry quartet discsthe first, Extended Family, with trumpeter Paul Smoker and drummer Damon Short, is also a first rate setis bassist Ken Filiano, who grabs the ear with an assertive sound that bounces around the horn guys with a "you lookin' at me?" attitude.
And just listen to Hess's opening solo on "Funhouse": the sounds he makesnot always the case in the freer end of jazzare gorgeous. We also revisit the Clef Family, whom we met on Extended Family and The Long and Short of It, with "The Clef's Visit Grandma." They prove themselves again a raucous clanand having mentioned Hess's melodicism, this one edges closer to to the screeching and squabbling side of free jazz, with Hess and Miles blowing interludes that sound like two sea gulls fighting over a French fry.
"Mystery Woman" takes the set into a somber chamber jazz mood, a bit reminiscent of some of Trio X's work on the CIMP label; and the closer, "Untying the Knot," begins the same way, with Filiano bowing, leading the group in painting some darker colors before things shift into a more up-tempo and brighter mode, then back to the dark side again...
An outstanding set! In the quartet sans chording instrument, nobody does it better.
Visit Fred Hess on the web.
Track Listing: On Perry St., Zane, In the No, Knitwit for Tara, Funhouse, The Clef's Visit Grandma's, Crossed Paths, Mystery Woman, Untying the Knot
Personnel: Fred hess--tenor saxophone; Ron Miles--trumpet; Ken Filiano--bass; Matt Wilson--drums
Record Label: Tapestry
Style: Modern Jazz