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Dog Eat Dog opens up with the song "Wee Zee"; and the high energy sound is a bit akin to a power rock trio (with very overqualified musicians, for that genre) who went out and found themselves an inspired, hard-blowing sax man. Power jazz. Driving rhythms that jiggle the marrow in your bones; urgent, full-bodied rhythms, beefy, dark, in-your face tenor sax work, piercing soprano reed work, a foray into bass clarinet land that sounds dangerous, foreboding, some stratospheric electric guitar licks. Everything supremely focused on a don't-look-back, forward momentum mode.
The Michael Ross Quartet's Dog Eat Dog.
This is the Florida-based quartet's second CD, and they show themselves to be a extremely assured unit. Bassist/leader Michael Ross co-wrote all the songs with guitarist LaRue Nickelson, tunes that have a rock 'em flavor. The seismic opener, "Wee Zee"; soulful ballads with muscle"Dog Eat Dog", "Unknown Warrior'; "Spherical" with it's soprano/guitar unison opening lightens the mood (sounds a little like a Branford Marsalis workout); the melancholy "I Thought I Knew"; and an in-the-groove "LaBooGaLoo". And "Raymond", a loose, loving tribute to the late great bassist Ray Brown (written and recorded before the great man's passing).
And save the best for last: "Battling Levinsky" Dave Pate, in front of a driving rhythm, sounds like he could go head-to-head with Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet here, and give no ground; then LaRue Nickelson comes in bouncing guitar riffs off the orbiting satellites...Marvelous; don't listen to this while driving; the accelerator foot will involuntarily press toward the floor (experience speaking).
An adventurous yet highly accessible powerhouse jazz outing by The Michael Ross Quartet.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.