Music Reviews

Chris Speed Trio

Iffy

Knitting Factory

The Chris Speed Trio is Ben Perowsky on drums, Jamie Saft on organs and synth, and of course, Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor saxophone. Classy, classy outfit. They’re all about restraint when you know they could just go off and off and off into interstellar space, but man, that’s not on the program tonight. There’s no selfish jockeying for space or muso grandstanding, much like prime Saint Vitus, The Chris Speed Trio lock into a groove and explore its infinite possibilities. Obviously, its Speed’s show, but the record really does have a tight band-like feel. Apparently recorded in two days, Iffy is all effortless cool and junctures of raw emotion. Like on “FMU,” when Soft on organ mimics Speed’s saxophone lines note for note, before breaking off to each explore simultaneous variations on the same theme, and uniting again and breaking again. And they follow that one up with wonderful brooding “Gina,” built around an Attractions-esque organ line that Speed vamps around, in and out, before it turns into something quite different and exotic. The mood of the album shifts a bit in the middle, with “Part III” and “Skew,” both moody, slow burning and fading idylls. This effect culminates in the über-tense and repressed “Skipping Really High,” in my humble opinion, the shining moment of the album. Almost kinda terrifying some of the time. Fear not though, Speed and his compatriots pick it back up at the end, positively romping through “CooCoo” and giving us a beautiful grandiose melancholy finale in “Slippers.” Varied and exciting and new, which is what jazz should be, right? Right?

Knitting Factory Records, 74 Leonard Street, New York, NY 10013, http://www.knittingfactory.com


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