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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.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.