Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chris Kelsey: Not Cool, Hot

The title to Chris Kelsey's new CD is apt. Not Cool {...As in, "The Opposite of Paul Desmond"} (Tzazz Krytyk) is a burning ode to music making in the cauldron of molten sound. Chris Kelsey (his soprano, alto and tenor, his music) has been around for quite some time. After a hiatus from playing he returned in full flower in recent years and this is his latest. From the moment the band hits the deck running on the first cut, my first listen made me realize that I had been missing out on some strong playing. Chris burns through reeds with extreme power. He is "old school" to the extent that his music assumes the blowing ensemble format of pre-free bands, and the routines have a certain tip of the cap to avant garde traditions, but beholden debts all end there.

What you have is a crack post-bop free band of "first chair" quality. Kelsey plays incandescent reeds and writes out some drivingly sane charts for the band to cook over their hot stove. Chris Dimeglio, on trumpet, as Kelsey notes in the album liner, has absorbed the lessons to be learned from Don Cherry and Lester Bowie and taken things from there, and the rhythm section of Francois Grillot and Jay Rosen, bass and drums, stoke the flames with dedication, energy and flair.

Chris Kelsey shows that he is at the forefront of the fiery reedists today. The music is exhilarating, overflowing, brilliant. Check out this CD by all means (, then, like me, you are probably going to want to hear the recordings he made with Bob Rusch in the Cadence/CIMP series.

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