Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Chase Baird- Crosscurrent

What's up with all the outstanding jazz kids? My town teems with technically impeccable and refreshingly energetic young jazz musicians. The debut album by California-trained tenor saxophonist Chase Baird indicates that it's a national trend.

Don't guys like Baird, 22, understand that they're deliberately opting for a life of economic hardship? No matter how good they are- and Baird is very good- there's just not much call for jazz musicians in the new millennium.

Practical misgivings aside, Crosscurrent is extremely impressive. The album races out of the gate with "Fifth Direction." Baird's mad torrent of notes is jarring, but it's also precisely how a young man should open his debut album. The project's sole fault, in fact, is Baird's unchecked enthusiasm. It's not hard to picture Baird jumping up and down and pumping his fists as Crosscurrent was being recorded.

Baird is balanced by a strong band that includes Julian Waterfall Pollack. I recently reviewed Infinite Playground, the keyboardist's new album, at There Stands the Glass. I also conducted an interview with Pollack in 2007.

Baird's obsession with the music of Michael Brecker and Gato Barbieri is cited in the extensive liner notes. I also hear some Joshua Redman in his playing. Sturdy original compositions like the seemingly Horace Silver-inspired title track show that Baird has done his homework.

Crosscurrent not a game-changer nor does it leave me awestruck. But it's incredibly listenable and very few moments are less than pleasing. There's no reason to believe that Baird and his band mates won't be producing excellent music for the next several decades. Here's hoping they develop an audience along the way.

Here are my thoughts on the musical legacy of late Kansas City saxophonist Alaadeen.

"La la la la la la la la." Here's the video for Fourth of July's "Self Sabotage." (Via Wayward Blog.)

I'm working on acquiring The Rub and Spare Change, the new album by the Michael Formanek Quartet.

This excellent fan footage of a recent Boris concert in Lawrence makes me regret missing the show.

Kansas City Click: Slayer, Megadeth and Testament perform Monday at Sandstone.

Stan Kessler's "TV" project returns to Jardine's on Tuesday.

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