Since arriving in New York in the early 1990s, reed player Chris Speed has been one of the most vital improvising musicians on the scene. His work has always ranged widely, moving from a jazz base out through various forms of folk, classical and rock music. With the formation of this excellent trio with drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus) and bassist Chris Tordini he’s sort of reversed direction. The is a group returning from other explorations to work deep within the jazz tradition, bringing everything else they’ve learned back in. What is most compelling about this music is the incorporation of early jazz styles in a way that is direct and deeply felt. The music is joyful and generous and Speed has an uncanny knack for coming up with tunes that can create a whole world of emotions and formal possibilities behind an often catchy melodic surface.
The Chicago Reader tagged their debut album “Really OK” as “one of the best jazz records of the year” and noted the trio “seamlessly connecting their abiding love and respect for jazz tradition with an inherent interest in pushing the music forward.”