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Chris Speed: Really OK

Glenn Astarita By

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Track review of "Argento"

Saxophonist, clarinetist, Chris Speed has been in the thick of things the past several decades. He's been a co-conspirator in trendsetting ensembles led by alto saxophonists, composers Tim Berne, John Zorn, and leading-edge outfits Claudia Quintet and Pachora amid a host of other noteworthy projects. Speed's prominence in the newer realm of jazz and jazz improvisation cannot be minimized. On Really OK he reenergizes his craft with a roots driven modern jazz trio presentation, featuring a mix of originals, a pop standard, and works by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane.

With asymmetrical infusions of tenacity, warmth and skirmishes within the outside realm, Speed's succinct phrasings and searching qualities mesh rather nicely with a few paradigm shifts interspersed into the big picture. On his original piece "Argento," bassist Chris Tordini establishes the heartbeat, contrasted by Bad Plus drummer, Dave King's polyrhythmic pulse. Here, the saxophonist's dark-toned lines waver between bop and a few rough-hewn avant blasts into the stratosphere as the trio engages in a swirling, spiraling and buoyant jaunt. Speed's top-down manner of storytelling is complemented by soaring mini-motifs and graceful descents. Moreover, King has lots of tricks up his sleeve and flings several rhythmically acute curveballs into the mix. In sum, Speed's élan, laudable skillsets and interminable wit shine radiantly. Really OK is much more than just an undeviating, risk-free jazz trio outing, and that alone, is really ok.

Personnel: Chris Speed: tenor saxophone; Chris Tordini: acoustic bass; Dave King: drums.

Title: Really OK | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Skirl Records

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