Doghouse, by the Florida-based “Michael Ross Quartet” serves as a judicious or perhaps glowing example of the many hard working and inventive jazz ensembles out there, who merit widespread exposure. With this new release, bassist Michael Ross leads a focused, highly charged outfit who infuse rock, funk and swing beats into their musical palate, while saxophonist Dave Pate and guitarist LaRue Nickelson make for a powerful front line attack. On pieces such as “Doghouse” and Eggplant Prayer”, Ross and drummer Tom Carabasi provide Nickelson and Pate all the ammo necessary for the soloist’s richly thematic and altogether penetrating choruses.
Whether performing on soprano or tenor sax, Pate often pursues rippling, staggered lines to coincide with his vigorous mode of execution. Hence, characteristics that nicely counterbalance Nickelson’s amalgamation of electrified single note leads, fanciful chord progressions and tuneful voicings, while the band also integrates hybrid North African/modern jazz motifs into their repertoire. – The musicians’ introduce a softly stated Caribbean vibe on “I Am Are”, whereas they get down to basics on the delightful blues-driven swing groove titled, “Second Meeting”. However, the quartet does pronounce a distinctive sound, which is saying quite a bit these days. Either way, Doghouse is a solid effort!