Chris Cheek

A Girl Named Joe

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AllMusic Review by

Chris Cheek takes a bold step forward with this all-original date. With two tenors (Cheek and Mark Turner) and two drummers (Jordi Rossy and Dan Rieser), the instrumentation is somewhat unusual. Guitarist Ben Monder and bassist Marc Johnson complete the lineup. Johnson is an excellent choice, given the rock leanings of "Arctic Barbecue" and "Plant Dance," the dark folk elements of "Lowered," and even the country traces of the title track. With his own groups, Johnson has flirted with precisely this sort of eclecticism. Cheek's compositions, like Johnson's, are tuneful and surprising, full of moves you wouldn't expect from a jazz player. Perhaps it's his middle-American upbringing coming to the surface.

On the jazzier side are Cheek's waltzes "September" and "Siege" and his closing 6/4 chart "Water Mile," which features probing solos from the two tenors. Monder's playing on every number is strong, as usual, not least on his own "Late Green," the album's most radical track and the only one not written by Cheek.

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