Co-led by fellow Cleveland natives Mike Lee on tenor saxophone and Ted Chubb on trumpet, New Tricks conveys a distinct New York sound on its aggressively swinging sophomore effort. With Kellen Harrison on bass and Shawn Baltazor on drums, the quartet puts a new spin on an old hard-bop formula without crossing over into the avant-garde camp. They come out of the gate swaggering on the vibrant title track, on which Lee reflects the influence of his mentor Joe Lovano (particularly in the high register). “Optimistic-Lee,” a metrically tricky form that yields bracing solos by both Chubb and Lee, is Lee’s take on the many tongue-in-cheek song and album titles associated with Lee Konitz and Lee Morgan. “Shellen vs Chee” is an all-out burner that pits the tight rhythm tandem of Harrison and Baltazor (Kellen + Shawn = Shellen) against the two-headed monster of Chee (Chubb + Lee = Chee). Other highlights include Lee’s evocative “Vicenza Days,” written after a dreamy walk around that Italian city, and Chubb’s reflective “Long Road Home.” The self-explanatory “Short Stops” is full of intricate little rumble strips on the freeway to some ferocious swinging.Originally Published
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