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New York reedist Chris Speed with his sax, bass and drums trio of Chris Tordini and Dave King, in a traditional mode performing original jazz numbers plus pieces by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, superb modern melodic jazz from 3 excellent players.

Speed, Chris with Chris Tordini / Dave King
Really OK

Speed, Chris with Chris Tordini / Dave King: Really OK (Skirl)
Label: Skirl    
Released in: USA    

"Multi-reed ace Chris Speed has long been beloved for the rich instrumental tones and improvisational flair he has brought to a host of New York's most creative bands since the early '90s, from vintage groups led by John Zorn, Tim Berne, Ben Perowsky and Uri Caine to current associations with John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet, Jim Black's Alas No Axis and Curtis Hasselbring's New Mellow Edwards. Then there are Speed's own left-of-center outfits: Human Feel, Pachora, yeah NO, Trio IFFY, The Clarinets and the ever-popular Endangered Blood.

But Speed has now finally applied his artful sensibility to the classic jazz sax-bass-drums formation with his album Really OK. Released on March 11, 2014, via Skirl Records, the beautifully atmospheric Really OK features Speed on tenor saxophone alongside Chris Tordini on double-bass and Dave King (of the Bad Plus) on drums. Speed and company have waxed a brace of originals by the leader, along with tunes by Ornette Coleman ("Round Trip") and John Coltrane ("26-2") plus the standard "All of Me." Speed's compositions have always been marked by a beguiling lyricism even in "out" settings, with DownBeat praising his writing as "melodically generous, accessible and warm." He unspools earthy, laconic tunes galore on Really OK, from the full-on swing feel of the title track and deviantly catchy "Argento" to the playfully ruminative, folk-like "Tamborrino" and more. Although Speed is known for his alternative ethos and band-oriented mindset since he was a fixture on the Knitting Factory scene of the mid-'90s, the time felt natural for him to address jazz heritage more head on.

"I feel fortunate to have a band where I get to focus on swing and melody and song form, and still do it in our own way," he says. "There is an ideology today of either focusing only on your own individual vision of music or totally immersing yourself in the tradition and repertoire of the past - one or the other. But I want to do both."

Throughout Really OK, the saxophonist's rapport with Tordini and King sounds as if the three had spent years on the road together playing this subtly interactive trio music. "The chemistry with this band was fantastic from the get- go," Speed explains. "Chris and Dave have such a great groove together, I feel like an old-timer playing with them - which I love. " Speed first met King in 1999, when the drummer's band Happy Apple and Speed's yeah NO toured together.

The two musicians hit it off, and they have performed as a wonderfully combustible duo together. Speed has also made two albums as part of the Dave King Trucking Co. "Dave is a positive force, as a musician and person," Speed says. "His feel as a drummer is always so good, and as an improviser, he is so present and inventive. It's the same with Chris. He hears so much harmonically and rhythmically - it's inspiring to play with someone who's that talented and willing to dig in."

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Trio Recordings

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Price: $14.95
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 888295063067

Label: Skirl
Catalog ID: Skirl 024
Squidco Product Code: 18916

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2014
Country: USA
Packaging: Skirl Digipack
Recorded August 7th and 8th, 2013 at The Terrarium in Minneapolis, Minnesota by Jason Orris.


Chris Speed-tenor saxophone

Chris Tordini-acoustic bass

Dave king-drums

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Track Listing:

1. Really OK 6:10

2. All Of Me 7:08

3. Takedown 5:24

4. Nimble Demons 3:33

5. Argento 4:53

6. End Of The Day 4:44

7. Delaware 4:25

8. Round Trip 7:21

9. Tamborino 3:51

10. 26-2 5:20

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