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.
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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?
The Fred Hess Quartet