Tim Ries

Universal Spirits

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Saxophonist Tim Ries continues to prove himself a player and composer of great depth and maturity. Joined by trumpeter Scott Wendholt, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Billy Drummond, Ries presents five originals as well as the melancholy standard "Some Other Time," a jazz-inflected reworking of J.S. Bach's "Sonata Nr. 2 Siciliano," and a snappy soprano rendition of Ornette Coleman's "Jayne." This last gives Colley and Drummond a chance to show off their formidable soloing skills. Ries's two fast-swinging numbers, "Indeed" and "Guardian Angel," feature some of Ben Monder's most bop-oriented playing on record; he sounds rather like Pat Metheny in straightahead mode. Monder also shines on "Free Three," a lively waltz with a beautiful contrapuntal head arrangement, and When I'm Through," the plaintive closer. Ries's own solos, on tenor and soprano, unfold with a sense of suspense and drama; his tone and melodic voice blends fabulously with the equally compelling Wendholt, especially on the lyrical "St. Michel." Compositionally, Ries's aesthetic falls somewhere between the free-bop of Ornette Coleman and the more ethereal harmonic universe of the ECM school.

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