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Michael Ross Quartet: Dog Eat Dog

Dan McClenaghan By

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Michael Ross Quartet: Dog Eat Dog 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.

Visit michaelrossquartet.com .

Track Listing: Wee Zee, Nadja, Unknown Warrior, A Jew's Blues, Dog Eat Dog, Spherical, I Thought I Knew, Suzie Faye, LaBooGaLoo, Raymond, Battling Levinsky

Personnel: Michael Ross, bass; David Pate, reeds; LaRue Nickelson, guitars; Walt Hubbard, drums

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Cooper Alport Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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