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Album Review

Given the long-standing musical affiliation between the members of Chris Speed's excellent Yeah No Quartet, it's no surprise that their debut recording came out of the corner full throttle. Over the course of three albums, the group has become one of the most exciting bands in improvised music, blending curious grooves, disparate world music traditions, and a highly attuned group dynamic into one thrilling whole. Speed spends most of Emit on his tenor saxophone, which seems to grow more compelling and forceful with each new project. Cuong Vu moves all over his trumpet, soaring above the band one moment, honking and sputtering in the cracks the next. Performing together in no less than four bands, bassist Skuli Sverrison and drummer Jim Black are accelerating into the downtown rhythm section for the new millennium. They seem equally comfortable throwing down puzzling odd-meter grooves as providing delicate ambient accompaniment and both make bold use of granted solo space. Speed's compositions reflect his and his peer's enthusiasm for a wide variety of music: "Kompa" weds a Balkan melody with a Haitian dance beat while "Tralala" finds the band (with Black on melodica) lyrically extrapolating on a delicate folk theme. Speed has expressed understandable reluctance in labeling his group "jazz"; despite the group's prodigious chops, those looking for a dose of toe-tapping swing may be in for a shock. But for the open-minded jazz fan, and adventurous music enthusiast of any stripe, Emit offers a dazzling and exciting listening experience.


Born: 1967 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A key member of the Brooklyn creative jazz community, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Chris Speed grew up in the Seattle area. Speed was first introduced to classical music and played the piano and clarinet before becoming interested in improvisation and the tenor saxophone during high school. He moved to Boston to attend the New England Conservatory and was soon part of the collaborative ensemble Human Feel, which in addition to Speed featured drummer Jim Black (also from Seattle), alto saxophonist...
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Emit, Chris Speed
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