Monday, October 22, 2018

Endangered Blood - Don't Freak Out (Skirl Records, 2018)

Endangered Blood is a very interesting collaborative unit featuring some of the best players on the modern mainstream jazz scene, Chris Speed on tenor saxophone, Oscar Noriega on alto saxophone, Trevor Dunn on bass and Jim Black on drums and this album was recorded at the very end of last year. “Passion Fruit Birthday Cake” opens the album with a buoyant and happy sounding theme with nimble percussion and bass supporting the horns, both the lithe sounding alto and the soft tenor which seemingly has the corners rounded off, giving it an appealing gliding sound. The horns engage each other and the tight rhythm as well, making for a very interesting and warmly inviting track. There is a relaxed and informal sensibility to “Easy Blues” with the bass and drums setting an inviting pocket and the horns making the most of the open ended setting. There is a bit more dirt and grit in the approaches of the saxophones, which adds to the tone and texture of the performance, made more present by the strong drums and supple bass. The saxophones trade solo sections, each with something interesting to say within this timeless American form, allowing warmth and soulfulness to be tempered by sharp minded improvisation. Snappy bass and drums are the foundation of “Varmints” with the saxophones weaving though and interesting theme, the tricky melody keeping everybody on their toes, and providing a great jumping off point for improvisation. The saxophones play together through a complex pattern and then split apart into fast paced solo sections, punctuated by squeaks and howls of emotion, and pushed ahead by strong and agile drumming. “Complimenti” has an airy and gently swaying feeling to it as the saxophones play light tones and the bass and drums are reserved and floating across the sound. A saxophone breaks free, ably supported by well grounded bass and the solo is probing and poignant in tone, then it’s partner picks up the pace turning faster with rattling drumming hot on his heels, and the group shows their versatility moving through varying moods and modes. There’s a short section for the duet the bass and drums, then the group returns to the melody and the conclusion of the song. There is an appealing excitement to “Diego Partido” with the quick harmonizing saxophones and cruising rhythm growing ever faster, and the stellar solos for the saxophonists, off the leash and romping wild through the tall grass. The sound is affirming and emotional, bringing the whole band together for an excellent series of improvisational cells built around the lightning fast reflexes of the bass and drums and fertile imaginations of the saxophone players. Endangered Blood -Bandcamp

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