Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I came across your new album “Merge”, while tidying up my desk. Chris, forgive me. I should’ve listened to this album in April when Single Malt Recording released it. I finally listened to it a few hours ago. It’s a jazz album with plenty of attitude, but in the wrong hands will be classified as a smooth jazz recording. Before I talk about this album, I want to share a bit of your bio with readers who may not know you. Chris is a saxophonist from Chicago. “Merge” is his fifth album. He attended the University of Indiana, but I don’t know if he graduated. I hear the university has a fine jazz studies program. Anyway, Chris made his bones on the Chicago jazz scene, and he lists Maceo Parker, Sonny Rollins and Prince as major influences. I don’t have the space to recite Chris’s accomplishments. He assembled this quartet pianist Damian Espinosa, double-bassist Marc Piane, and drum Tyrone Blair in 2006. They’ve worked steady since, making quite a name. Chris, would comparing you to Kenny Garrett be offensive? I know Garrett plays the alto sax and you don’t. However, while “Good Riddance” “M. Tati” and “L.F.E.I (Let’s Get it Straight) Garrett came to mind. The both of you are relentless on up-tempo material. So, did Garrett’s style influence yours? Speaking of being relentless, on “Coffee ‘n’ Scotch” and “Lotus Blossom,” pianist Damian Espinosa covered all bases. Espinosa plays every square inch of the piano. Chris, some people may brand “Merge” a smooth jazz offering because of the contemporary feel of “Good Riddance” and “Borderline”. You gambled including those tunes, but I'm certain people with discerning ears will like “Merge” unconditionally.