New York-based clarinetist and saxophonist Chris Speed (1967) emerged in the
ensemble Human Feel which recorded
Human Feel (Human Use, 1989),
Scatter (april 1991 - GM, 1992),
Welcome to Malpesta (New World, 1994),
Speak To It (october 1995 - Songlines, 1996).
Speed then founded two bands. Pachora focused on Eastern European folk music:
Pachora (january 1997 - Knitting Factory, 1997),
Unn (Knitting Factory, 1999),
Ast (Knitting Factory, 2000),
Astereotypical (Winter and Winter, 2003).
(Vietnamese-born trumpeter Cuong Vu, Iceland-born bassist Skuli Sverrisson and drummer Jim Black)
encompassed a broader spectrum of influences, although it still
displayed an insane obsession for folk melodies and dance rhythms:
Yeah No (july 1996),
Deviantics (Songlines, 1999),
Trio Iffy (Knitting Factory, 2000),
Emit (Songlines, 2000).
Speed also played with Tim Berne and was a
member of the Claudia Quintet,
Yeah No's fourth album, Swell Henry (Squealer, 2004), featuring
Tin Hat Trio's Rob Burger on accordion, Jamie Saft on electronic keyboards,
Cuong Vu on trumpet, Skuli Sverrisson on bass and Jim Black on drums,
displays, first and foremost, Speed's ability in crafting moods. Each piece
revolves around a simple melody and relies on simple arrangements, but, somehow,
the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
The mournful accordion-driven She Has Four Thorns,
the breezy aria that surfaces amid the minimalist repetition of Born In The Air (with a spectacular clarinet solo),
the plain sentimental song Dead Water,
the exotic surreal vignette Kip Files
are impeccable exercises in sound crafting.
The nearest reference is
Lol Coxhill's Welfare State,
the melodic standout is a folkish Lol Coxhill-ian fanfare,
Last Beginning, whose crescendo is almost rock.
Both the almost circus-like fanfare of Camper Giorno and the
almost marching-band pace of He Has A Pair of Dice are also
Jugendstil (june 2006)
Really OK (august 2013) was recorded by a trio with
drummer Dave King and bassist Chris Tordini.
Chris Speed (tenor sax), Oscar Noriega (alto sax and bass
clarinet), Trevor Dunn (bass) and Jim Black (drums) formed the acoustic
Endangered Blood that released
Endangered Blood (september 2010) and
Work Your Magic (december 2012).
Craig Taborn (piano and electronics), Chris Speed (tenor sax and clarinet), Chris Lightcap (bass) and Dave King recorded Daylight Ghosts (may 2016 - ECM, 2017),
all composed by Taborn except for Roscoe Mitchell's Jamaican Farewell.
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