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Jodie Christian: Soul Fountain

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Chicago’s answer to Kenny Barron, Christian performs here in a variety of contexts ranging from post-bop to free jazz. On a couple of tracks he plays unaccompanied solos, on others he works in various combinations with woodwind player Roscoe Mitchell, alto saxman Art Porter and trumpeter Odies Williams. One of the most dependable and versatile jazzmen in Chicago for decades, he can play lyrical, swinging straightahead solos or go outside, according to the situation. This CD illustrates his adaptability and contains some of the better examples of his recorded work.

Porter died in 1996 at 35 after recording with Christian and cutting two commercially successful CDs for Verve, which seemed aimed at Grover Washington fans. However, he was also a capable, fluent post-bop soloist, and does a nice job here, although he’s not very original. Mitchell, in addition to free work, plays on changes, although he still employs his characteristic flurries of notes.