Chris Speed Trio: Iffy

Although talented multi-reedist Chris Speed has been prolific in both stylistic variety and output, this first CD with his trio-drummer Ben Perowsky and keyboardist Jamie Saft-is a surprisingly wooden affair. Sort of a postmodern organ trio record, Iffy suffers not from Speed’s assured performance, as he smoothly shifts between clarinet and tenor saxophone, but from the decision to go with Saft playing the bass parts on his synthesizer: they sound stiffer than Ted Knight at a poetry slam. The normally excellent Perowsky sounds overly busy, perhaps making up for having nothing to really lock in to, and his cluttered drumming is exposed by the mix.

Speed’s work with his Yeah No group and the Eastern European-influenced Pachora, as well as his numerous guest spots on Dave Douglas’ and other players’ CDs, prove he is a first-class talent. Unfortunately, this album’s title should have the letters “st” in front of it.