414

Chris Cheek: Blues Cruise

Matt Merewitz By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Cheek: Blues Cruise Even though he has turned in one stunning performance after another on albums by Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, Guillermo Klein's Los Gauchos and various lesser-known, though equally interesting ensembles, Chris Cheek is still a lurker.



Your only good chance of seeing this reedman live is in New York or on the other side of the pond, where he makes frequent tours. The problem has nothing to do with Cheek's playing. It's the game: labels, distributors, publicists, writiers, editors. Nevertheless, Blues Cruise did get to me by some freakish fluke, and I've gotten to savor its pleasing variety of textures and styles.

The erstwhile Brad Mehldau Trio is the backing band on Blues Cruise. Cheek couldn't have asked for a more empathetic and sensitive rhythm team for this program, which ranges from the calypso-tinged "Flamingo to the soft Rhodes-laden bossa-tango "Coo and the folk rock-informed "John Denver, which actually sounds like a convincing jazz version of what would otherwise be a rock song with electric guitars and bass.



The title of this release would seem to imply that the tunes center around the blues, but they don't, really. Some have a bluesy flavor. But it seems to be more about the journey. The soprano ballads have a searching quality, while the tenor romps are more declaratory.

The saxophonist's rich tone is the most notable constant throughout the record. It has a richness and flavor that's akin to a fine wine or cigar. The vivacity and frolicking quality of Cheek's breathy tenor owe much to the influence of Sonny Rollins, while his rhythmic flair draws equally from Eddie Harris. Comparisons to Chris Potter and Donny McCaslin also come to mind, but without all the shrieking and pyrotechnics.



This record is a testament to the fact that no matter how far any player may be from the media limelight—and consequently the public consciousness—a great soloist coupled with a terrific backing band can make for some of the freshest music you've ever heard.


Track Listing: Flamingo; Low Key Lightly; Coo; Squirrelling; Song of India; Falling; Blues Cruise; John Denver; The Sweetheart Tree.

Personnel: Chris Cheek: saxophones; Brad Mehldau: piano, Fender Rhodes, electric keyboard; Larry Grenadier: bass; Jorge Rossy: drums, hand percussion.

Title: Blues Cruise | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Heavy Weather" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Weather
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Resting in a Fold of the Fog" CD/LP/Track Review Resting in a Fold of the Fog
by John Eyles
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Calvins Toboggan" CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Freedom is a State of Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom is a State of Mind
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 30, 2016
Read "Isang" CD/LP/Track Review Isang
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.