Reedists Chris Speed and Oscar Noriega, bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Jim Black return for their 2nd album of contemporary jazz blending melodic and free playing with intricate interplay in a great set of tunes referencing Lester Young, Leah Paul, Teddy Wilson, Paul Motian, &c.
Endangered Blood (Black / Dunn / Noriega / Speed)
Work Your Magic
Released in: USA
""Work Your Magic is the sophomore endeavor by the jazz quartet Endangered Blood, featuring drummer Jim Black, bassist Trevor Dunn, alto saxophone/bass clarinetist Oscar Noriega, and tenor saxophone/clarinetist Chris Speed. Their 2011 self-titled debut was a huge success among critics and listeners, launching the band on extensive touring (including a performance on the renowned NPR Tiny Desk Concerts) and thus taking their already fiery interplay to new levels. "Work Your Magic reflects the band's growth as a powerful unit as well as its new level of compositional ambition.
The four members of Endangered Blood are some of the most influential jazz musicians of their generation. Jim Black should need no introduction to listeners of creative music, having established himself as one of the most inventive drummers of his generation, and is currently leading his own trio as well as post-rock/jazz group Alas No Axis. Bassist Trevor Dunn has been touring the world with various Mike Patton and John Zorn projects as well as entering the Guinness Book of World Records by playing fifty gigs in fifty states in fifty days as a member of the Melvins Lite. Oscar Noriega is fast becoming one of the rising stars of creative music as a member of Tim Berne's acclaimed Snakeoil quartet. Chris Speed continues to be one of the most highly respected jazz saxophonists and clarinetists working today, currently playing with Craig Taborn, Dave King, Uri Caine and John Hollenbeck's long running Claudia Quintet.
The songs on "Work Your Magic push into new areas of compositional complexity without losing the intensity and the soulfulness that characterized their debut album. At their most sonic extremes EBlood never loses the connection with their jazz roots. Even as Speed expands the compositional language into mercurial, unpredictable forms (as on "Ah-Le-Pa"), and minimalistic melodic themes ("Manzanita"), the quartet hits the dense counterpoint with the same warmth as it does the Ellingtonia of album closer "LA#5. The approach becomes explicit on a rhythmically fractured blues: "Blues in C Flat Minor."
Endangered Blood is the sound of four long-time colleagues and friends, jazz musicians and composers in their prime, uniting seemingly disparate streams of jazz into a powerful new music that embraces the past and moves courageously into the future."-Skirl
"The out-jazz supergroup Endangered Blood is no less adventurous on their second album, but they've added more nods to conventional jazz this time.
The first album did have "Epistrophy," but it was a version darkened by crinkly bass clarinet. Work Your Magic has "Argento," a breezy swing tune with Jim Black's bustling racket going on behind the straight-faced horns. "Blues in C-Flat Minor" really is a blues, albeit in 7/8 time and propelled by some bubbly, unconventional drumming.
And "LA#5," apparently a nod to Lester Young, is a sweet ballad. Black goes into quieter mode for this one, using brushes for a more subdued style (as on his piano album, Somatic). Trevor Dunn gets a a nice bass solo before Chris Speed's tenor sax takes over with his tart sound.
Most of Speed's compositions reach further afield than that, though. Manzanita" starts with written counterpoint lines for alto sax and clarinet, sometimes with one player pulsing one note while the other one weaves in and out of the fabric. It's a summertime cerebral jazz, played out politely until the group careens into speedier form. "Kaffibarinn," named for an Icelandic bar, uses light Glassian arpeggios and a heavy melody of stern chamber music.
It's all executed well, as you'd expect from these guys. Speed (tenor sax/clarinet) and Jim Black (drums) have been together since the '90s in groups like Human Feel and Tim Berne's Bloodcount. Oscar Noriega (alto sax/bass clarinet) has been on the post-downtown scene almost as long, and he's most recently gotten airtime as a key part of Berne's Snakeoil band. Dunn (bass), a darling of the out-rock set, has also been delivering solid jazz chops for any number of groups, including some great Bay Area groups in the late '90s.
You do get more of the jazz in Speed's playing on this album, and less of the wandering microtonal musings that he often favors. I like that. There are plenty of sax or clarinet solos over a bass/drums jam, certainly, but there's also space for untethered improv duets (as on "Ah-Le-Pa," which includes a nice Dunn/Black workout), criss-crossing composed lines for the reeds, or delicate chamber-jazz moments.
Further toward the outer edge of things, "International Four" (written by Hilmar Jensson, who's played with these guys in other contexts) starts with free improvisation at a fast jog, full of sax/clarinet squawking, then gets into a composition of attractive long lines, a long path of bursty notes."-Wedge RadioAlso availalable, "Endangered Blood" (first release).
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units
Quantity in Basket: None
Catalog ID: Skirl 021
Squidco Product Code: 17485
Packaging: DVD Digipack
Recorded on December 18th and 19th, 2012 at Brooklyn Recording by Andy Taub.
Oscar Noriega-alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Chris Speed-tenor saxophone, clarinet
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1. Kaffibarinn 5:43
2. Blues In C Flat Minor 5:28
3. Ah-Le-Pa 6:18
4. Argento 4:36
5. Manzanita 5:17
6. Nice Try 6:48
7. International Four 6:26
8. LA#5 4:58