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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed: Really OK

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Saxophonist, clarinetist, Chris Speed has been in the thick of things the past several decades. He's been a co-conspirator in trendsetting ensembles led by alto saxophonists, composers Tim Berne, John Zorn, and leading-edge outfits Claudia Quintet and Pachora amid a host of other noteworthy projects. Speed's prominence in the newer realm of jazz and jazz improvisation cannot be minimized. On Really OK he reenergizes his craft with a roots driven modern jazz trio presentation, featuring a mix of originals, a pop standard, and works by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. With asymmetrical infusions of tenacity, warmth and skirmishes ...

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Three with Chris Speed/Skirl Records: Big Choantza; Smell The Difference; Esopus Opus

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The New Mellow Edwards Big Choantza Skirl Records 2009 Tyft Smell The Difference Skirl Records 2009 Ben Perowsky Quartet Esopus Opus Skirl Records 2009

Since founding Skirl Records in 2006, saxophonist Chris Speed still hasn't led a project for the label. But that hasn't diminished his instrumental contributions to it. His distinct tenor and clarinet are integral to the latest Skirl crop, illuminating his range ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed / Chris Cheek / Stephane Furic Leibovici: Jugendstil

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Double-bassist Stephane Furic Leibovici avers that he likes to be gentle with sounds and to listen to the inside of them. He is true to this philosophy on Jugendstil, where he finds solace in the quiet and the meditative; getting inspiration from classical and chamber music and using them to the full in his writing.

One of the traits of the music is the subtle changes woven into the context. The credit for this goes largely to clarinetist Chris Speed and saxophonist Chris Cheek. Together, and individually, they bring in gentle nuances, slight shifts of direction and, when ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed / Chris Cheek / Stephane Furic Leibovici: Jugendstil

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Everything about this extraordinary album, Jugendstil, is deliberate and attains its own level of perfection. To begin with, there is its name: The word Jugendstil (German for “youth style," akin to the French “art nouveau" movement of the late nineteenth century) is so apt, considering that it defines the music contained in this record. For instance just as that art movement was typified by highly stylized and curvilinear forms, so also is the music on this record. Here, the aural replaces the visual form of the art it seeks to represent and the compositions are typified by their stylized phrases ...

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Chris Speed: Playing For The Team

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Human Feel Galore Skirl 2007

Chris Speed has been perking up audience ears since the early 1990s, when he and a talented coterie of Boston music students descended on Manhattan to test their mettle in the downtown scene. One of the important outgrowths of this camaraderie was Human Feel, a quartet (originally a quintet) with Speed, Andrew D'Angelo (alto saxophone, bass clarinet), Jim Black (drums) and Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar).

Although unrecorded since 1996, Galore marks the group's triumphant return. Like much of Speed's other work, the disc embodies an all-for-one ...

LIVE FROM PHILADELPHIA

Skirl Records Visits Philadelphia

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We are in a period when more and more people download their music via the internet; important retailers such as Tower Records are shutting their doors; and blank CDs outsold pre-recorded CDs last year. Yet, Chris Speed--a multi-instrumentalist and longtime member of New York's downtown scene--has undertaken the Herculean task of starting an independent record label with the launch of Skirl Records. On December 15, 2006, Speed and several bands on his label came to Philadelphia for a CD release party. The evening of music was presented by the Ars Nova Workshop, which continues to be Philly's only ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Burr / Oscar Noriega / Chris Speed: The Clarinets

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The Clarinets is both the name of the all-clarinet improvisational trio of Chris Speed, Oscar Noriega and Anthony Burr, and the title of their new CD, the first release on Speed's new Skirl Records imprint. Here Speed (on clarinet), Noriega (on bass clarinet and clarinet) and Burr (on bass clarinet) explore the possibilities of their instruments in an improvised setting. Jazz purists won't find much to enjoy here: these eight pieces (gloriously recorded in the expansive former-church interior of the NACL Theater in Highland Lake, New York in 2005) display an almost-complete absence of tempo, jazz licks or harmonic development.

INTERVIEWS

An AAJ Interview with Chris Speed

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In an effort to avoid having their work artistically typecast, many musicians have chosen to incorporate a variety of styles into their own vernacular. Although this frequently results in fascinating results, there are several distinct challenges and problems with the eclectic approach.

The first is simply that of failing to convince, perhaps better stated as a lack of credibility, a sort of musical equivalent to “hey, look at me, I can do that too!" or worse “you want that? We can do that!" This is usually the consequence of failing to understand the style(s) being adopted.

The second ...

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Jim Black: Swell Henry & Habyor

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From a musical history that stretches back to their Seattle youth and tenure together in many projects, saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed and drummer Jim Black have both emerged as bandleaders and composers and still draw on each other's talents. With their groups yeah NO and Alas No Axis, respectively, they have mined different musical territory to forge distinct sounds, despite overlapping personnel that also includes bassist Skuli Sverrisson. On their newest releases, they show a parallel focus on crafting songs, not merely platforms for improvisation.

Yeah No Swell Henry Squealer 2004

Speed's Swell Henry expands ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed's Yeah NO: Swell Henry

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Four years have passed since the last release by Chris Speed's Yeah NO quartet, Emit (Songlines, 2000). Speed has been busy in those years as a key player in the ensembles of Uri Caine, Dave Douglas, Myra Melford, Matt Moran and John Hollenbeck. He toured and played with three collaborative bands with overlapping personnel--the Balkan-tinged quartet Pachora, with his own Yeah NO players, electric bassist Skuli Sverrisson, drummer Jim Black, and guitarist Brad Shepik; Jim Black's AlasNoAxis, with Sverrisson and Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson; and, of course, Yeah NO, with trumpet player Cuong Vu. He also managed to lead another ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed: Emit

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With his fourth solo CD, saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed continues his distinct assault on modern jazz as Emit may in fact represent the artist’s finest achievement as a leader thus far. Along with three of his longtime band mates from the peppery Balkan based band, “Pachora”, Speed and trumpeter Cuong Vu make for an auspicious front line horn section in concert with the all world rhythmic pairing of bassist Skuli Sverrisson and drummer Jim Black.

Basically there’s not one track to be found that might hint at anything resembling filler material. The band cross pollinates Middle Eastern themes with a Caribbean ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed: Emit

Read "Emit"

With his fourth solo CD, saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed continues his distinct assault on modern jazz as Emit may in fact represent the artist’s finest achievement as a leader thus far. Along with three of his longtime band mates from the peppery Balkan based band, “Pachora”, Speed and trumpeter Cuong Vu make for an auspicious front line horn section in concert with the all world rhythmic pairing of bassist Skuli Sverrisson and drummer Jim Black.

Basically there’s not one track to be found that might hint at anything resembling filler material. The band cross pollinates Middle Eastern themes with a Caribbean ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed Trio: Iffy

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After releasing two noteworthy and thoroughly – cutting edge – recordings for the “Songlines” modern-jazz label, saxophonist/clarinetist/composer Chris Speed adds new meaning to the phrase – power organ trio – with his latest endeavor and first recording for “Knitting Factory Records”, titled Iffy. With this outing, Speed utilizes the laudable talents of keyboardist Jamie Saft who is rapidly evolving into a dynamo of lofty proportions and the equally adept, hard hitting drummer/bandleader Ben Perowsky, as the Trio pursues power-organ grooves with a modern-jazz slant.

Speed and associates waste little time going for the jugular on the opener titled, “A Little ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Speed: Deviantics

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Multi-reedman Chris Speed is a busy man these days. Speed’s involvement with cutting edge bands or artists such as “Orange Then Blue”, “Pachora”, James Emery, Jerry Granelli and Tim Berne’s “Bloodcount” put him in the heart or forefront of 90’s style modern jazz. Deviantics is Speed’s 2nd solo release, both of which are on the Songlines label.

Chris Speed has graduated from the so-called “young lion” status and is without a doubt a star who has most certainly, risen! A gifted technician and composer, Speed is a young stylist with a clear vision. Here, Speed utilizes the wondrous talents of ...



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