Mike Lee / Ted Chubb: New Tricks (2009)
The band benefits from solid material, designed upon memorable hooks and an underlying impression of buoyancy. Lee and Chubb trade the customary fours while spicing matters up with dynamic unison choruses and odd-metered detours. And it's a liberal affair, as the musicians' generate some high-heat when appropriate.
The quartet injects ample doses of pop and sizzle, but counterbalances its hard-hitting gait with memorably melodic themes and variances in hue and pitch. The frontline also executes a literal reading of Charlie Parker's classic bop piece, "Ah Leu Cha," but fuses its individual voices into the bridge with soaring exchanges and heated soloing.
With gently rolling segments and perky excursions, the band covers lots of ground, including a smoky late night ballad that gains steam amid interweaving motifs on "1919 (dedicated to Donald Jacobus)." The quartet doesn't set its sights on reinventing the jazz vernacular. Instead, it's largely about a group-centric ethic, aided by a solid and a diverse track mix. Add ardent soloing to the grand schema, and there lies the bountiful fruit.
Track Listing: Out of Time; Old Dog; New Tricks; Jackie's Day; Ah Leu Cha; J's Other Bag; After Much Discussion; Josie Moves East; Absence; In His Steps; Amble In; 1919 (Dedicated to Donald Jacobus).
Personnel: Mike Lee: tenor and soprano saxophones; Ted Chubb: trumpet; Kellen Harrison: bass; Shawn Baltazor: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz