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Lou Grassi Saxtet: Quick Wits

Crank up the volume! Your neighbors might complain, but you’ll hear all the inherent subtleties of this tight-knit, three-horn ensemble-their harmonious blending, exciting counterpoint melodies, unbridled solo lines, driving rhythms, and spontaneous merriment and wit.

With bassist Dave Hofstra in keen support cohesion, Grassi’s propelling, sometimes primitive drumbeats-like heartbeats-collectively and individually enliven seasoned horn players Joe Ruddick (baritone sax) and Phillip Johnston (alto sax). Though these four players have crossed paths in the last 15 years, this band was born only five years ago. Rooted in free- playing jams, they initially called themselves Double E-flat Quartet. Newcomer Chris Kelsey (soprano sax) commendably complements the synergy.

Drawing from the full spectrum as leader of five distinct working bands, Grassi brings bop, swing, and other musical elements to eight unique compositions/arrangements by Johnston, Kelsey and Ruddick which provide foundation for their spirited ventures.

To some, Grassi’s Saxtet may sound like cacophonous chaos, but there’s amazing unity in their rhythmic revolt. Like a living, breathing organism, they expand, stretch, and compress harmoniously, sometimes humorously. Quick Wits is a flexible, free-wheeling workout that will have you wiping sweat.

Originally Published