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Speed, Chris Trio (w/ Chris Tordini / Dave King): Platinum On Tap (Intakt)

An impressive jazz album from saxophonist Chris Speed, performing with his trio of Dave King on drums and Chris Tordini on bass, a chordless trio that emphasizes Speed's lyrical playing that is both melodic and yet driven by complex riffs, odd time signatures and runs that are fully developed in style and intention, creating a joyful and embraceable album of modern jazz.

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product information:

UPC: 7640120192945

Label: Intakt
Catalog ID: ITKakt 294
Squidco Product Code: 24898

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2017
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded live at Brooklyn Recording, Brooklyn, New York, on March 3, 2016, by Andy Taub.


Chris Speed-tenor saxophone

Chris Tordini-acoustic bass

Dave King-drums

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Artist Biographies:
"Chris Speed is a composer, clarinetist and saxophonist - and is "one of the principal figures in a dynamic left-of-center jazz/improv scene in the city" (NYTimes). His own bands include Endangered Blood, Human Feel, yeah NO, Trio Iffy, Pachora and The Clarinets. He is a founding member of Jim Black's Alas No Axis and John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet (two of the most influential working bands today), works with Uri Caine (deconstructing works by Mahler, Mozart, Bach, Schoenberg, Gershwin) and maintains a busy career of touring, recording, performing, composing, practicing and teaching. Current projects include work with Craig Taborn's Heroic Frenzies, Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus, Dave King's Trucking Co., Matt Mitchell Quartet, Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue, Banda de los Muertos (NYC's only Banda band), as well as touring his latest project, Endangered Blood (with Black, Trevor Dunn and Oscar Noriega) which was featured on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts in 2012. (Endangered Blood 2010, Work Your Magic 2013 Skirl). "Speed's Endangered Blood originals stand out as his most melodically generous, accessible and warm batch of compositions he's yet to produce." -DownBeat ****Born in 1967, Speed grew up in the Seattle area where he met future colleagues Jim Black and Andrew D'Angelo, all of whom ended up in Boston in the late 80's where they formed Human Feel with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. (Scatter 1992, Welcome to Malpesta 1994, Speak To It 1996, Galore 2007). While in Boston he studied at New England Conservatory and graduated in 1990. By 1992, after a short tour with the Artie Shaw Band (led by Dick Johnson), Speed moved to New York City where he started working with Tim Berne's (now legendary touring band) Bloodcount. (Unwound 1996, Discretion 1997, Saturation Point 1997, The Seconds 2006).In April 2006, he launched Skirl Records, a label dedicated to Brooklyn based creative music" -Chris Speed Website (

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"Christopher Tordini is an in-demand bassist on the New York City music scene, where he performs with established jazz icons as well as a diverse range of emerging musicians. He has toured and recorded with Andy Milne's Dapp Theory for over 5 years, and has also played in bands led by other renowned artists such as Greg Osby and Jeremy Pelt. Tordini plays often with drummer Ari Hoenig, with the Becca Stevens Band, and is a key collaborator in projects led by drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey and trombonist/composer Michael Dessen. A graduate of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Tordini forged strong professional relationships with several faculty members there, including Rory Stuart and George Garzone, with whom he continues to collaborate. Recently, Tordini has performed and recorded with prominent bandleaders such as Steve Lehman, Okkyung Lee, Tigran Hamasyan, Jo-Yu Chen, Mike Pinto, Andrew D'Angelo, Jim Black, and Yaron Herman. He has played at New York City's most prestigious jazz venues, including the Blue Note, the Village Vanguard, the Iridium, the Jazz Standard, Smalls, the Jazz Gallery and the Stone, among many others."

-Home Gift of Music (

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"Born 1970 Minneapolis MN
Studied piano and drums as a young person. Played in some amazing grade school, jr high school and high school bands and ensembles..............seriously ground breaking in approach and chart selection including a big band version of "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A" by John Mellancamp (formally known as John Cougar and John Cougar-Mellancamp).
Moved out east for a moment in 1989 when nyc still had barrel fires burning in lots that now house the American Apparel flagship store next to a place you can get a $7.00 espresso.
Moved to Los Angeles in 1991 to warm up a bit.
Was a couple of miles from the epicenter of the 1994 L.A. earthquake.
Decided that wasn't the place for me.
Moved back to Minneapolis.
Co founded Happy Apple.
Co founded Love-Cars.
Co founded Halloween, Alaska.
Joined 12Rods.
In 2000 co founded The Bad Plus in NYC.
Co founded The Gang Font featuring Greg Norton of punk icons Husker Du.
Have Performed music in 75 countries and 6 continents.
Have appeared on over 50 recordings.
Besides my working groups I have recorded and or performed with Bill Frisell, Joshua Redman, Dewey Redman. Jeff Beck. Tim Berne, Hank Roberts, Chris Speed, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Django Bates, Dead Prez, The Coup, Joe Lovano, Bill Carrothers, Anthony Cox, Chris Morrissey, Mason Jennings, Haley Bonar, Meat Beat Manifesto, Craig Taborn, Matt Mitchell, Matt Maneri, Benoit Delbeq, Craig Green, Jason Moran, Tchad Blake, David Torn, Donna Lewis, Atmosphere, and a few more great people.
I have also worked extensively with The Mark Morris Dance Group and with acclaimed fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi on his fashion week music and t.v. show music.
I have also recorded and composed for film including two films for animated film maker Tom Shroeder and 6 seconds of one of my drum beats is in the film "The Hot Chick" starring SNL icon Rob Schneider believe it or not."

-Dave King Website (

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track listing:

1. Red Hook Nights 4:18

2. Arrival High 6:51

3. Buffalo 15 4:32

4. Crossface Cradle 5:29

5. Pretty Much 4:27

6. Crooked Teeth 3:53

7. Platinum On Tap 3:50

8. Stardust 5:32

9. Torking 3:44

10. Spirits 2:42
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"This new album by Chris Speed's excellent trio with drummer Dave King and bassist Chris Tordini is in many ways Speed's most fully developed and personal work to date. Since arriving in New York in the early 1990s, he has become one of the most vital improvising musicians on the scene through work that has always ranged widely, moving from a jazz base out through various forms of folk, classical and rock music.

With the formation of this trio Speed has reversed course: moving from these outer explorations back into something that is unquestionably jazz. What is most striking about this record is that the early jazz influences are now fully center stage. Instead of being one of a number of competing musical influences, some kind of feeling of the aesthetic of Lester Young is now at the center of everything. At a time when many jazz players are continuing to look further and further outside the tradition, this is a group returning from other explorations to work deep within the jazz tradition, bringing everything else they've learned back in ...

The resulting music is joyful and generous and Speed has an uncanny knack for coming up with tunes that can create a whole worlds behind an often catchy melodic surface."-Anthony Burr, from the liner notes

"Chris Speed has been an essential New York City jazz saxophonist for nearly 25 years since he arrived from the New England Conservatory (and, originally, Seattle). That is a long time to be not only making great music on your own but also as one of the essential on-call improvisers in jazz's greatest city.Speed's run of classic recordings from 1997 to 2000 (Yeah No, Deviantics, Iffy, and, my favorite, Emit as well as all the recordings by the band Pachora) was a bracing wind of originality that combined Eastern European folk elements (Klezmer, Balkan music) with everything else. In the meantime, he was and has been working with Dave Douglas, Jim Black, John Hollenbeck (in the Claudia Quintet), Myra Melford, Tim Berne... can I stop now? The man is tireless, including starting a record label to get creative music out there for others. Tirelessly creative.In recent years, Speed's playing has been transformed, at least to my ears. His tone has become less brassy and softer, and his playing--always melodic--has developed a gravity that has something to do with never playing an easy lick. He will tell you that he has turned his listening back to certain saxophone masters: Lester Young, notably, and Sonny Rollins, Don Byas. He has been leading a trio recently with Chris Tordini on bass and Dave King on drums. And the music is deep, swinging, and insistently compelling.It's worth noting up front that Tordini and King are no mere sidemen here. Tordini is playing with everyone right now, from Tyshawn Sorey to Becca Stevens; King is, of course, best known as the drummer for The Bad Plus. These guys have gigs-a-plenty. But their playing with Speed is glorious.The imperative for this band is finding classic sounds and grooves but wedding that jazz pliancy to the New Jazz of this century. Speed's compositions do not skimp on the tricky elements that are the bread and butter of the New Jazz - complex/overlapping time signatures particularly. But the band is always swinging in 9/8 or 12/8, in 3/4 or even just 4. The guys play some high-level stuff, but almost every tune on Platinum on Tap is a toe-tapper on one level or another. King-thought of as the loudest drummer in jazz because of The Bad Plus-simply skips and swings here light and leaning forward, his ride cymbal a thing of joy and his snapping accents on snare and toms sounding positively Max Roach-ian. Tordini is sometimes a walking fool, playing quarter and eighth notes in a rubbery flow. At other times, he works a pattern in conversation with King. But, one way or another, the tunes pop and burble and gallop. The ballads stroll and sway."Buffalo 15" is a great example of how Speed makes the complex sound simple. The melodic theme is an easy-to-hum ten-note phrase with a sing-song shape, repeated twice amidst a swaying groove set up by the rhythm section. As Speed launches into his solo, you can hear that motif and the groove it requires beneath everything and amidst all of Speed's choices. I can't figure out the tricky time signature, but I sure can feel the groove. The same could be said for "Platinum on Tap", which has a tumbling kind of momentum"Pretty Much", in contrast, is a happy and playful jazz waltz. The band lets it sway and lets it swing, leaving the complexity to the conversation: Speed tracing circles of melody as he improvises while King maintains a near-continuous dialog with the horn. Tordini gets in his licks here too.Only two songs were not written by Speed, and they are telling. "Stardust" is programmed late in the disc, and as it begins you recognize the famous introductory phrase. But after that, we are accustomed to hearing the 32-bar melody. Speed chooses, instead, to begin improvising immediately, winding his way around the melody more than "running the chord changes". His tone and pace are both conversational, almost mumbled, spoken with a nonchalance. Speed leaves generous rests in his line, which contains hints of the melody at every turn. The full melody waits its turn until after the bass solo, and it comes as a revelation, almost sounding improvised itself.The very last tune is Albert Ayler's "Spirits", which Speed approaches with playfulness. The melody is a lark and also an excuse to just let the band loose on a brief, fast slice of free-bop. That Ayler cry and portent? Nah, in Speed's hands everything is a light beam.I am particularly partial to a couple of the outliers on this record, maybe because the exceptions prove the rule. "Crooked Teeth" is wildest, freest exercise here, which is to say that Speed play with the most abandon and growl-yet he never loses that sense of Lester Young lightness. Also, the time is very nearly straight walking swing, but there is so much conviction that it sounds tricky still. I also very much like "Arrival High", where King and Tordini are exceptionally busy, creating an Afro-Cuban bed of vibration while Speed plays a very quiet, half-timed melody on top. The tenor solo picks up momentum, beginning as if the horn was intimidated by the groove and ending in an ecstasy of runs and melody.On this tune-and, really, all over Platinum on Tap-Chris Speed is working with a combination of 21st century freedom and mid-20th century gravity. While his tone is increasingly flutey for a tenor player, he places each note on the line as if he were building a wall. Speed rarely plays flurries or spasms of notes. Rather, he strings them together with attention to shape, strength, and direction. In that way he is old-fashioned with a purpose.As much as the trio setting-which is to say, the absence of a chording instrument-lets us really hear all of Speed's deliberation and tone, I will also confess that I miss the support that a piano or guitar would bring to the band's sound. Speed has plenty to push off and play against, but the presence of one other soloist to generate conversation would be a plus in my mind. Trio records can be oddly solitary.For Chris Speed at this moment, however, a quiet confidence and room to stretch out are just time."-Will Layman, Pop Matters
Get additional information at Pop Matters
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Trio Recordings

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