Written by Hrayr Attarian
Chris Greene Quartet, PlaySPACE
Chris Greene – Saxophones
Damian Espinosa – Piano and keyboards
Marc Piane – Bass
Steve Corley – Drums
Marquel Jordan – Saxophone (5)
Saxophonist Chris Greene and his quartet demonstrate seamless synergy and passionate
spontaneity on the exhilarating live recording PlaySPACE. The former attribute is due to the many years the four musicians have spent performing together while the latter is the result of their vibrant creativity and individual expressiveness.
Greene’s serpentine soprano sashays among the rhythm trio’s Latin-tinged flourishes on the warmly romantic “Clean and Clear.” Pianist Damian Espinosa matches Greene’s lithe lines with an elegant cascade of shimmering notes while bassist Marc Piane echoes his bandmates with a suave and lyrical solo.
In contrast, the energetic “Thunder Snow” takes off with a fiery start and the momentum does not slack throughout. Drummer Steve Corley drives the tune with his restless, percolating beats and takes center stage with breathtaking agility and exhilarating polyrhythms. Greene’s muscular tenor embellishes the melody with imagination—reconstructing it without losing its essence. Espinoza brings tension and angularity to his stimulating and dramatic improvisation.
Greene’s music embraces a variety of styles, yet remains singularly his. This album is no exception. From the simmering “Blues for Dr. Fear”—with Greene’s swaggering tenor and Espinoza’s smooth, resonant chords—to an Afro-Cuban take on saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s classic “Speak No Evil,” the tracks are superbly inventive and continuously engaging.
For example, “The Crossover Appeal” is a soul-jazz gem with Espinoza’s dense, darkly hued keys exchanging emotive vamps with the ensemble. Corley keeps a rock-influenced cadence while guest saxophonist Marquel Jordan and Greene engage in an increasingly riotous duet of overlapping sinewy phrases and elements of 1970s nostalgia.
Over the course of a dozen or so releases and more than two decades of professionalmusicianship, Greene has developed into a superb bandleader, improviser, and composer. His pieces are intricately crafted from a wide range of musical elements that he and his group interpret with refreshing gusto and sophisticated virtuosity. Like all its predecessors, PlaySPACE is accessible, delightful, and highly enjoyable.