Chris Speed Trio / Chris Speed


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This Chris Speed-led date finds him in a jazz trio setting with drummer Ben Perowsky (who has recorded most with Dave Douglas and Mike Stern) and organist Jamie Saft (of Jerry Granelli and Bobby Previte groups). The three form an equally balanced trio; it would be hard to pick out the leader just by listening. Iffy is opened by Perowsky and Saft who set the pace for a few measures before Speed comes in with his clarinet. The first surprise is that Saft is on Hammond B-3 (the credits list simply "organ & synthesizers") and for a quick moment, Wayne Horvitz' Zony Mash comes to mind, but the trio then moves wholeheartedly in an organ jazz direction. As "A Little Odd" approaches the four-minute mark, it ends abruptly and in rushes the high-energy, whirlwind number "Graphic Ridiculous," which flies, in its calmer moments, and rocks out through reckless solos. After this fast ride, the trio only calms down a little for the synchronized duet between Saft and Speed -- who's on tenor this time -- with Perowsky soon joining in. With "FMU" (named, perhaps, for the NYC radio station) the boys bring back the jazz and include a bit of entertaining melodrama toward the end, as well. The groovy "Gina" is based around a klezmer melody and finds Saft's left hand steadily riding the low end, Perowsky cutting it up with a mid-tempo funk and Speed exercising his clarinet chops. "Part III" signals the mid-point of the album and offers a half and half of fast action and slow motion. The second half of this well-done, up-tempo album continues with as much energy, interest, and variety as the first, with the only real wind-down number, "Slippers," coming in at the close.

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