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With his fourth solo CD, saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed continues his distinct assault on modern jazz as Emit may in fact represent the artist’s finest achievement as a leader thus far. Along with three of his longtime band mates from the peppery Balkan based band, “Pachora”, Speed and trumpeter Cuong Vu make for an auspicious front line horn section in concert with the all world rhythmic pairing of bassist Skuli Sverrisson and drummer Jim Black.
Basically there’s not one track to be found that might hint at anything resembling filler material. The band cross pollinates Middle Eastern themes with a Caribbean vibe on the fervent opener, titled “Constance and Georgia” where Speed and Vu render perky lines and sweet melodies amid fluctuating rhythms, flirtatious call and response dialogue and jovial deconstruction of the primary motif. Black and Sverrisson surge onward with the intensity of a freight train on “Suggestible” as the soloist’s combine ballsy improv with intriguing melodies while Speed, performing on clarinet, rides atop the often maniacal pulse and Sverrisson’s limber lines. Whereas, on “Tangents”, Jim Black demonstrates yet again why he is one of the finest drummers in jazz, evidenced by his polyrhythmic onslaughts and ability to maintain the tempo without losing a beat. On this piece, the band provides polychromatic vistas, as the lead soloists render airy yet complex unison choruses in conjunction with a rhythm section who seem hell bent on ripping the walls apart. Here, raw power attains a fruitful coexistence with innocent beauty!
I was first exposed to jazz while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.