Another member of Chicago's great progressive jazz scene, drummer Mike Reed leads a very exciting ensemble (one of several he leads or co-leads.) Joining him are Greg Ward on alto saxophone, Tim Haldeman on tenor saxophone, Jason Roebke on bass and a few special guests. "It's Enough" bursts out with the twin saxophone front line zipping around like barnstorming airplanes, propelled by energetic bass and drums. "V.S. #1" is at a confident mid tempo performance with a nice strong sounding tenor saxophone solo. They slow to a soft interlude for yearning saxophone and probing bass, slowly building up for the rest of the band to join in and take the tune out. "About Us" is fast and swaggering then evolves into a saxophone trio, swirling like a whirlpool of sound. Tenor saxophone muscles in for a solo turn that is equally dexterous. "Big and Fine" has tenor saxophonist David Boykin sitting in and addling some brawny and bluesy accents to this mid-tempo tune. His saxophone turns caustic and exciting, with a hint of burlesque in its grinding sound. An alto saxophone solo calms things down a bit with a thoughtful interlude. All the saxophones come together with bass and drums before making way for a bass solo. Everybody comes together nicely to take the tune out in an exciting fashion. "The Next Time You Are Near" is mellow and peaceful with a spacious ballad saxophone solo. Jeb Bishop adds trombone to "Big Stubby" with a stuttering opening making way for a nice full band improvisation on a fast paced theme. Tenor saxophone takes charge with an enlivened solo, then there is an exciting interlude of the horns improvising together with out bass and drums before a return to theme and out. "Flat Companion" is uptempo modern jazz, high octane fast paced stuff with a strong deep tenor saxophone solo. "First Reading - Paul's Letter" has low and slow bowed bass making for an ominous feel. "Under the Influence of Lunar Objects" is uptempo and exciting, bursting with energy. Jeff Parker sits in on guitar on "Days Fly By (With Ruby) with a nice bright neon sounding guitar feature. This was a very well done and exciting modern jazz album. Chicago is a hotbed of some of the best improvised music being created right now.
About Us - amazon.com
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Unnatural Ways - We Aliens (Tzadik, 2016) ****
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