Roberta on the Arts
The Phil Chester Group: Open Door Samba
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Culture from Chicago
Our Sponsors

The Phil Chester Group: Open Door Samba

- CD Reviews

Mustang Harry's, the Lunch Destination
for Lively Conversation and Warm Hospitality

Mustang Harry’s
Fine Foods & Spirits
352 7th Avenue (between 29th and 30th Streets)
NY, NY 10001
Ask for Niall

The Phil Chester Group: Open Door Samba
2014: Phil Chester
(Amazon Site)

Phil Chester on Soprano, Alto, Tenor Saxophones
Bob Quaranta on Piano
Ian Froman on Drums
Leo Huppert on Bass
Joe Fitzgerald on Bass
Katie Jacoby on Violin
Tomas Ulrich on Cello


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 4, 2015

All compositions by Phil Chester.

This CD is jazz with hints of Samba, with all original compositions by saxophonist Phil Chester. This is certainly music for listening, no thumping Carnivale, and it’s introspective, innovative, and inviting. Mr. Chester brings a sextet, on piano (Bob Quaranta), drums (Ian Froman, bass (either Leo Huppert or Joe Fitzgerald on each track), violin (Katie Jacoby), and cello (Tomas Ulrich). The violin and cello make this recording extra enticing, as the mellow or scintillating strings add so much texture. Even the cover art is fanciful and evocative of open-air music.

Notable tracks:

#3 – Water – This is a lovely piece, opening with piano, then strings melding with saxophone, for one-note tones. I find the arrangement original and creative, without added embellishments, so the purity of the instruments can be appreciated. The tempo is languid, and the melody is played in expansive timing. There’s no rush to this, as most album tracks have serenity and sensuality. .

#5 – Earth and Sky – In this track, Mr. Chester features drums, piano, and bass, along with his very ebullient sax. Mr. Huppert, on a brief bass solo, then hands the theme to Mr. Quaranta on piano, who has a generous riff toward the finale. Mr. Froman, on drums, lets the sound explode, about halfway through the piece. Mr. Chester plays three different saxes in this total album, each time with clarity and smooth tones.

#6 – Kyrie – This is my favorite track, with the sextet resembling a choral concert. Mr. Chester is on soprano sax, which takes on a quasi-flute-like range. There are varied atonal passages that add interest and classicism to the composition. Mr. Fitzgerald is featured on a lengthy bass solo, with Ms. Jacoby and Mr. Ulrich on violin and cello to fill out the instrumental, choral imagery.

#12 – Cactus Blues – Here, the sextet goes wild, especially Ms. Jacoby on a surreal, bluegrass-imbued violin riff. Piano, drums, tenor sax, violin, and cello merge in melodic, urban, sometimes danceable rhythms. Together, the sextet (with Mr. Fitzgerald on bass) lets loose, showcasing Phil Chester’s fine new tunes. This music should appeal to diverse listeners, with its contagious themes and harmonies.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at