Got to do another album review. When I have time to do 'em they're pretty fun. This one's for an emerging Jazz crew out of Chi that's pretty good. Check it out.:
When done right, a really good jazz album does a “what if?” on your ear drums in ways that other genres just can’t. That’s why I’m diggin’ Soul & Science Vol. 1 from Chicago sax man’s band, the Chris Greene Quartet. Comprised of Greene, Damian Espinosa on piano, Marc Piane on acoustic bass, and Tyrone Blair on drums, CGQ are part of a generation of young jazz guns who are melding their classic jazz chops with urban, soul roots. And the results are exactly what the jazz world needs.
S&S is only 6-tracks deep but if's got some real breadth and range. Consider CGQ's out-the-box and soulful covers—one of Sting’s King of Pain, plus Stevie Wonder’s Boogie On Reggae Woman and Miles Davis’ Caravan, plus a couple original comps from Greene who handles the bulk of the group’s arranging duties.
Now the easy way out of covers is to do the “smooth jazz” version of the original. (Play it softer, slower, and Kenny G/David Sanborn-it within an inch of its life, or until Starbuck's or Windamhill calls you for a compilation).
Fortunately, CGQ took some risks. On the covers, they give you enough of a skeleton to remember it, but then fleshed it out in different ways so that it just sounded more original, but still had a lot of soul; especially on the King of Pain cover which despite running 12 minutes, had the stamina to feel pretty strong start-to-finish. But even on CGQ’s original stuff (4.23), which hints at a little more laid-back vibe—there’s a definite lyrical and soul feel to their playing—you could almost hear someone singing it places where the horns and piano were.
Overall, Soul & Science Vol. 1 lives up to its name, showcasing a young hungry band full of fire and thoughtfulness with some diverse influences and not afraid to mix it up and show it off.
A closet jazz head, Hadji Williams is a noted culture critic, marketing consultant and author of the business classic KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save your job and your life from Corporate America. He can be reached at: email@example.com