New Jersey resident, veteran educator, group leader and session ace Mike Lee pulls some new tricks out of an old bag on this 2009 quartet date with co-leader/trumpeter Ted Chubb. In the liners, Lee mentions that this aggregation found its origins via recurring jam sessions in his basement. They're a young and noble bunch of jazz warriors ready for battle. The proof lies within this hip session, based on crisp arrangements, resonant soloing and a tight-knit line of attack.
The band benefits from solid material, designed upon memorable hooks and an underlying impression of buoyancy. Lee and Chubb trade the customary fours while spicing matters up with dynamic unison choruses and odd-metered detours. And it's a liberal affair, as the musicians' generate some high-heat when appropriate.
The quartet injects ample doses of pop and sizzle, but counterbalances its hard-hitting gait with memorably melodic themes and variances in hue and pitch. The frontline also executes a literal reading of Charlie Parker's classic bop piece, "Ah Leu Cha," but fuses its individual voices into the bridge with soaring exchanges and heated soloing.
With gently rolling segments and perky excursions, the band covers lots of ground, including a smoky late night ballad that gains steam amid interweaving motifs on "1919 (dedicated to Donald Jacobus)." The quartet doesn't set its sights on reinventing the jazz vernacular. Instead, it's largely about a group-centric ethic, aided by a solid and a diverse track mix. Add ardent soloing to the grand schema, and there lies the bountiful fruit.
Out of Time; Old Dog; New Tricks; Jackie's Day; Ah Leu Cha; J's Other Bag; After Much Discussion; Josie Moves East; Absence; In His Steps; Amble In; 1919 (Dedicated to Donald Jacobus).
Mike Lee: tenor and soprano saxophones; Ted Chubb: trumpet; Kellen Harrison: bass; Shawn Baltazor: drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.