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Chris West: Surprise Trilogy

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After dabbling in acid jazz on his previous outing (2006’s Jazzmanic), young Nashville-based tenor saxophonist-composer Chris West deals in more straight-ahead sounds here, with an emphasis on hard bop. He states a strong case on the urgently swinging “Kenny” and the bold, uptempo “Next Step,” which pairs him on the frontline with trombonist Oscar Utterstrom and features a frantic breakdown with drummer Derrek Phillips. Tuba ace Neil Konouchi anchors the funky second-line number “Where I Got My Groove,” guitarist Adam Agati erupts with legato fury on “Truth,” and West’s mentor, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, is featured in a two-tenor battle on the old-school organ-fueled burner “Mr. Grossman.” Trumpeter Rod McGaha guests on two freewheeling jams, “Surprise” I and II.

Originally Published