The Phil Chester Group: Open Door Samba
2014: Phil Chester
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.
#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.