Chris Fagan: Signs of Life

Solid, solid, solid: alto saxophonist Chris Fagan has put together a crisp and convincing set, in which the balanced contributions of repertoire and players create a steady stream of small twists and surprises that sustain interest throughout. He opens the collection with a chorus of “Night and Day” in dialogue with drummer Brian Kirk, establishing a deep groove and the phrase-ending figure that anchors the arrangement and his solo. The repertoire is well chosen, with well-made standards braced by offerings from the pens of Clifford Brown, Sam Rivers, Cedar Walton, Hank Mobley, Benny Golson and Fagan himself. Fagan’s “Blues with a Rub” is an attractive 12-bar line that builds from a laid-back, half-time feel to a terrific peak of intensity, in which the limits of the blues framework, bar-lines and chords alike, are tested nicely. Throughout, bassist Chuck Bergeron and pianist John Hansen are on call with a ready supply of swinging support and solo ideas.