Chris Speed

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

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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). Yeah No (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, and 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 prime Coxhill.

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 quartet Endangered Blood that released Endangered Blood (september 2010), Work Your Magic (december 2012), and Don't Freak Out! (december 2017).

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.

The live Platinum On Tap (march 2016) documents the Chris Speed Trio with Chris Tordini and Dave King.

Human Feel, featuring Andrew D'Angelo (alto sax and clarinet), Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar and voice) and Jim Black (drums and electronics), recorded Galore (june 2006) and Gold (recorded in 2017).

Chris Speed formed a trio with bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Dave King that recorded Iffy (december 1999), Platinum On Tap (march 2016) and Respect For Your Toughness (november 2018).

The clarinet trio of Chris Speed, Anthony Burr and Oscar Noriega, dubbed The Clarinets, released The Clarinets (june 2005), Keep On Going Like This (january 2009), and No Pressure (march 2017).

Light Line (october 2020) is a solo clarinet work.

The live The Complex Relationship Between Two Simple Machines (august 2022) documents a performance with Armen Nalbandian (paino) and David King (drums).

Despite Obstacles (june 2022) featured Chris Tordini on acoustic bass and Dave King on drums.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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