Friday, July 10, 2009

TEAM SPIRIT

I’m no sure which of your performances I have enjoyed most. Your work on the upcoming release “Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival album , which has an all-star rhythm section bassist Dave Holland, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and drummer Eric Harland. I predict this album will be at the top of many jazz journalists best albums of 2009 list. I guarantee it will be on mine.

The other date that’s monopolized my attention is “UltraHang”, your lateness album as a leader. I admire the team spirit on this outing. Chris, the album could be a template for how a jazz fusion album ought to sound.

There’re praiseworthy solos throughout. On “Boot” and “Facing East”, drummer Nate Smith made his drum kit float, and throughout the recording pianist Craig Taborn culled a soft and comfortable sound on the Fender Rhodes, which is one of the most annoying instruments ever invented.

I have to consult with a few musicologists. I'm almost sure that “It Ain’t Me, Babe” is the first jazz fusion ballad known to man. The only discernible eyesore, Chris, on “Ultrahung” was “Interstellar Signals”. It’s too esoteric for my taste, and I couldn't comprehend your intent.

This album could have been a disaster in the wrong hands. You assembled guys that are jazz musicians by trade. They also aren’t afraid to tackle other forms of music. Pianist Craig Taborn, guitarist Adam Rogers, and drummer Nate Smith adhered to the course you mapped out. You created enough elbowroom for the guys to be creative. When they improvised, neither never got carried away.

Taborn, for example, is a creative dude, but he has a rambunctious streak. At times, he bangs on the piano keys as if he working out some aggression. On this album, however, Taborn soloing was straight-to-the-point. You're colorful and daring in the space you carved out for youself.

Your blowing on “Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Jazz Festival” and “Ultrahang” were chunks of Sam Rivers and Booker Ervin’s style spliced together. I wonder if either saxophonist influenced you. Chris, I may never determine which I'm more attracted to you as a sideman or you as a bandleader.
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