Criss Cross Jazz
An accomplished tenorman, sopranist, and composer, the 39-year-old Coltrane-influenced Ries has essembled fir this recording an equally impressive combo comprising trumpeter Scott Wendholt, a young, already fully formed talent of whom more will undoubtedly be heard in months and years to come, guitarist Ben Monder, a similarly gifted youthful improviser, bassist Scott Colley, another whiz-kid, and veteran drummer Billy Drummond. All are to be commended for their high level of musicianship, as evinced in their relaxed mastery of improvisation on advanced harmonic material and particularly so in the area of communally shared, centrally pitched intonation. Especially intriguing is their version of Ornette Coleman's "Jayne," on which Colley and Drummond produce a swinging, forward-moving propulsion, which in turn inspires especially heated solos from both Ries and Wendholt. This, however, is not to denigrate the various other values of the surrounding tracks, Leonard Bernstein's balladic "Some Other Time, " Bach's "Sonata No.2 Siciliano" (orginally written for flute and here played on soprano), and Ries' wide-intervalled, angular "Indeed," the slightly Latinized "St. Michel," the lyrical "Free Three," the Coleman-inspired "Guardian Angel," and the lullaby, "When I'm Through."