The Fred Hess Quartet
Saxophonist Hess doesn't do reviewers any favors. Rather than create discs that vary wildly in terms of quality, he produces consistently strong work that renders comparisons with previous efforts pointless.
Crossed Paths, which will be introduced to the public on Sunday, February 13, during a free show at St. Cajetan's Center (1190 Ninth Street on the Auraria campus), finds Hess in the company of typically fine collaborators -- in this case, trumpeter Ron Miles, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Matt Wilson. The dominant style is post-bop, but Hess and company enliven this oft-heard form by accentuating the playfulness in their playing. The opener, "On Perry Street," is highlighted by appealing harmonics, a pleasantly skewed arrangement, and a Hess solo that's good-humored in a pleasantly woozy way. Later, on "The Clef's Visit Grandma's," the interplay between Hess and Miles, in particular, results in a sprightly and spontaneous musical conversation.
In other words, this is another first-rate Hess album. What else is new?
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