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CD Review: Mike Lee and Ted Chubb

New Tricks (New Tricks)


Mike Lee is a saxophone master who has worked in the New York City area for almost two decades. His latest CD, a co-billing with trumpeter Ted Chubb, is an angular and daring affair. It's piano-less, modeled after the original Ornette Coleman Quartet; this is post-bop, not bop. Cleveland Heights native Lee is a big-toned player of great heart who hitches a decidedly modern sensibility to styling rooted in the showy tradition of Illinois Jacquet and the less R&B-influenced Johnny Griffin (a Lee inspiration). He and Chubb — his more laconic, tarter foil — make fine, sharp music. Check out YouTube to see this quartet in action; Lee is the elder statesman in this modern-jazz version of a jam band. On record, however, maturity isn't an issue. Chubb's clever "Out of Time," which launches the album, signals New Tricks' command of meter, punctuated by Shawn Baltazor's rock-star drums. Lee's affectionate "Old Dog" showcases the group's bonhomie and Lee's discursive, engrossing style. The tunes, including a passionate take on Charlie Parker's "Ah Leu Cha" and "In His Steps," Lee's complex homage to Coltrane, span a variety of mood and texture, all informed by wit and adventure. — Carlo Wolff 

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