“Alternate Side” review in Jazz Inside NY Magazine.

Check out this new review in a great local NY jazz Magazine. You can also find the publication in the corner of the bar in all the best NY jazz clubs. Or you can read it online here.

By Mark Keresman
In case you needed to be reminded appearances—
and preconceptions—are often deceiving.
Take the latest disc by the NYC-area quartet
New Tricks—two horns, bass, and drums. One
might think the contents are going to be post-
Ornette Coleman “out” jazz. Wrong—this foursome
forgoes the presence of a chordal instrument
(like piano or guitar) not to “depart” from a
conventional semblance of harmony but to emphasize
harmony. So Alternate Side superficially
evokes the classic Ornette Coleman Quartet(s) of
the 1950s, the style is surging, hard-swinging
hard bop a la Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and
Art Blakey, with wee touches of free jazz (as
defined by Don Cherry, Dave Douglas, and Ornette).

The sparse, mournful “Vicenza Days” gives
the horn-gents a chance to shine, but not in any
pyrotechnical manner. Ted Chubb is both brassy
(no pun intended) and elegiac, his crisp, fervent
tone somewhat evoking Booker Little. Mike
Lee’s tenor is velvety yet tart, with blues as the
soft/hard center. Both lads play soulfully, and
while the ambiance is glum it never becomes
oppressive, dull, or dirge-like. Lee’s vocalized
and slightly raspy tone on “Back To Work” flirts
briefly with flurries of free, but he swings mightily
over tumultuous (but not “free”/”out”) bass
and drums. Shawn Baltazor’s rumbles and crackles
with authority and with restraint. “New Dog”
has a wry, blues-tinged swagger (almost Ornettelike,
in fact), and Chubb gets to sear here with
his temperate and punchy, bob-and-weave approach.

New Tricks’ tunes—all originals—have an
immediate, dynamic, and tuneful drive. This
band is big on ensemble work, lots of interplay,
give-and-take. The tracks are fairly lengthy (nine
tunes in almost 70 minutes) but there’s very little
rambling. Alternate Side recalls Blakey’s Free
For All and Hubbard’s High Blues Pressure—
not avant-garde but aware of and valuing its
volatile energy, which gets worked into an edgybut-
accessible hard bop context. Sharp stuff,
this.

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