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Chris Greene Quartet: PlaySPACE 2: Play Harder

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Chris Greene Quartet: PlaySPACE 2: Play Harder
Accomplished saxophonist Chris Greene, with his warm sound and easily recognizable style, is a stalwart of the Chicago music scene. Over the past decade he has led the same quartet of equally brilliant musicians who have honed a seamless camaraderie. On his 13th release, the ebullient PlaySPACE 2: Play Harder, Greene and his band stretch out on five tracks which, despite being recorded at three different sessions, make for a very cohesive set, one which crackles with the energetic spontaneity of the group's live performances.

Greene's own "Samba Fu Maga," the only one not recorded at Space, is taut and swinging, brimming with passion and bold hues. Greene states the main motif with his muscular tenor, tinged with gritty vibrato. He launches into an intricate and fluid improvisation which remains within the composition's spirit while vibrantly embellishing it. Pianist Damian Espinosa takes center stage with his dense, resonant chords which coalesce into poignant and vivid musings.

Drummer Steve Corley's roaring beats open the engaging "Divers." The angular tune that bassist Marc Piane penned features Greene's fiery honks and squawks which soar over and dive into the trio's riotous rhythms. The ensemble's free wheeling, and simultaneously soulful repartee moves and stimulates. Espinosa uses single notes and brief refrains, gradually building up to a classically inspired extemporization, poignant and vivid. Piane takes an eloquent and lyrical solo which Corley and Espinosa support. Corley's thundering kit ushers in the red hot conclusion.

Greene showcases his versatility by interpreting material from varying sources. In addition to the standard "Caravan" and a bluesy rendition of country singer Hank Williams' "You Win Again," he includes an effervescent take on keyboardist George Duke's "Omi." Electrifying percussion opens the piece. Greene switches to soprano saxophone and plays the main theme with gusto, and then launches into a rousing soliloquy with measured tones and lithe agility. Espinosa's phrases simmer while weaving an intricate and enchanting sonic tapestry. Thrilling percussion leads up to the concluding head.

With its distinctly stylish cover, courtesy of artist Eric Jimenez, which matches the music within, this is another, uniformly superb album from Chris Greene and his colleagues. The originals are refreshingly novel and relevant while the covers are uniquely interpreted and respectfully deconstructed. This is yet another high point in a discography replete with them.

Track Listing

Divers (intro); Divers; Caravan; No Setlist!; Samba Fu Maga; Omi (Fresh Water); You Win Again.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Chris Greene: percussion (6); Damian Espinosa: percussion (6); Marc Piane: percussion (6); Steve Corley: percussion (6).

Album information

Title: PlaySPACE 2: Play Harder | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Single Malt Recordings


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