143

Chris Kelsey Quartet: Renewal

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Sometimes a hiatus is the best answer to impending burnout. Soprano saxophonist Chris Kelsey recognized such signs and decided to shelve his horn in response to the stressors that were closing in. Also a writer, he seems to have hung up his quill for a spell as well. Time away from the rigors of creative improvised music allowed for the sort of perspective and focus that's encapsulated in his new album's single word title.

Kelsey's no neophyte to the CIMP Spirit Room. His debut date was actually the eighth session for a label that now has over twenty-five times that number in its catalog. That debut also drew on the talents of trombonist Steve Swell, featuring the two horns in a duo situation. Swell's back with his old colleague, and the crisp sound the band achieves is testament to their familiarity with the finicky acoustics.

In both technique and compositional preferences Kelsey holds much in common with maestro Steve Lacy. A dry articulation that doesn't shy away from the straight horn's nasal piquancy couples with a preference for dissecting and reassembling melodic material into a plethora of variations. It's probably part of the reason why the tracks take up the ample running times they do. Listening to Kelsey shape a statement, Miles Davis' famous advice to Trane comes to mind: the old adage of ending a solo by simply taking the horn out of from one's mouth. But like Trane, Kelsey's prolix locutions are usually in the service of the music, rather than at odds with it. Also enlivening are the vocal exclamations that occasionally perforate his more emphatic patterns of notes.

"Charlie Parker's Last Will and Testament" unfolds in story-like segments that echo the somber seriousness of its title. Kelsey once again milks nearly every drop he can from a serpentine motif, spewing notes in fast, spiraling patterns. Grillot and Rosen answer and support, accentuating the leader's extemporizations and ensuring that the momentum doesn't diminish. Grillot fills the final minutes with another percolating solo that converges with Rosen's syncopations into an undulating groove.

The momentum splashes over into "Reason Excluded," another twisty-headed tune carried on the rounded hump of Grillot's loping bass walk and Rosen's cantering cymbals. Swell takes first solo crack, slipping and slurring with lubricious precision atop the steady, slouched beat. "Enough/No Tell" centers on a crackling colloquy between Kelsey and Swell, an update on the pared down parameters of their first CIMP meeting. Kelsey's subsequent solo takes some time in coalescing, but Swell's hits a bull's eye from its start in another spate of swerving vocalic phrases.

A tightly twisting head on "E and Me" caps the disc off with a dizzying bang. Swell and Rosen lay out, leaving Kelsey and Grillot to joust expressively. The duo's close-quarters conversation expands into a galloping center section and a circular return to the contortionist's theme. Kelsey may have cashed out his chips previously, but this set gives notice that he's got more than enough creative capital to keep placing future bets.



Visit CIMP on the web.


Track Listing: A Romp in the Dark; Charlie Parker's Last Will and Testament; Reason Excluded; Enough; No Tell; E and Me

Personnel: Chris Kelsey- soprano saxophone; Steve Swell- trombone; Francois Grillot- bass; Jay Rosen

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: CIMP Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Som før" CD/LP/Track Review Som før
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Montréal" CD/LP/Track Review Montréal
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Factory Girl" CD/LP/Track Review Factory Girl
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "The Way You Say It" CD/LP/Track Review The Way You Say It
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!