Chris Speed's Endangered Blood | Hungry Brain | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Chris Speed's Endangered Blood 

When: Sun., Dec. 5, 10 p.m. 2010
Price: Donation requested.
Saxophonist Chris Speed and drummer Jim Black have been collaborating consistently since they met in high school in Seattle in the early 80s. Speed luxuriates in flowing, harmonically prismatic melody lines and Black loves to disrupt his own perfect timekeeping with exuberant, thumping chaos, but the two of them have worked together in so many contexts since forming Human Feel in 1987 (with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and reedist Andrew D'Angelo) that they've developed a preternatural empathy despite their disparate approaches. And thanks to the diversity of these many projects (Pachora, Black's Alas Noaxis, Speed's Yeah No, Tim Berne's Bloodcount) they've created an amazing variety of music together, all the while retaining enough of their own styles to be quickly identifiable. Their latest group is Endangered Blood, a quartet with reedist Oscar Noriega (Slavic Soul Party!) and double bassist Trevor Dunn (Trio Convulsant, Mad Love, Mr. Bungle), and on its forthcoming self-titled debut for Skirl Records it creates an irresistible tension between rhythm and melody with postbop that swings between chunky and lithe. Speed wrote almost all the music (there's also a take on Monk's "Epistrophy"), and in his simple, elegant arrangements the two horns alternately slalom contrapuntally, play in loose unison, or refract each other; sometimes one will cajole the other gently during a solo or settle into a predetermined ostinato that provides a lively backdrop for improvisation. Behind them Black swings and grooves, dropping in disorienting asides, and Dunn shapes big, storming lines with a wonderful gut-punching tone. Of all the combos Speed and Black have played in together, Endangered Blood is the one where their contrasting styles flower most fully and fit together most organically—it's not so much oil and water as it is yin and yang. —Peter Margasak

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