New York’s premier jazz clarinetist Chris Speed visited Barbès last month with his trio as part of WFMU’s Bethany Ryker’s Stochastic Brooklyn series. Stream the entire set here.
Before You Press Play
Hometown: New York
The Facts: Originally from Seattle, Chris Speed has called New York home since 1992. Known largely for his clarinet, he’s also killer on the tenor saxophone. Speed got his start in "out" jazz with the Boston group Human Feel (along with drummer Jim Black and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel), then rose to prominence through his work with artists like Dave Douglas, Myra Melford and Tim Berne. In 2000, his Trio Iffy released what would be one of the decade’s finer jazz records, a self-titled set on Knitting Factory Records. Speed is also a member of John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet, Black’s Alas No Axis and a few other ensembles. In his free time, he runs the Skirl record label, which has released 12 records since 2005. For this outing, Speed donned his saxophone and joined Trio Iffy drummer Ben Perowsky and banjo/guitarist Brandon Seabrook for a 65-minute set.
The Sound: Versatile — the Speed trio vacillates between laid-back swing numbers and fast, frenetic post-bop worthy of their namesake.
Latest (formal) Release: Jugendstil with Chris Cheek and Stephane Furic Leibovici (2008) on ESP-Disk’
He Said, She Said: "Speed is a compelling soloist; he possesses a lovely round tone on the clarinet and his wailing tenor can be powerful at even quiet volumes....yet even in groups he leads, Speed surrounds himself with musicians whose styles often command equal if not greater attention than his own. It is a measure of Speed's maturity as an artist that he avoids personal grandstanding and brings out the best in his bandmates." - Dave Lynch, All Music Guide
"As with many of the musicians that float in the Knitting Factory's orbit, reedman Chris Speed has contributed to seemingly every jazz-oriented project in the area, from Anthony Braxton to John Zorn, and has dabbled in many solo and group ventures. With such an outpouring of creative energy, it would just be easier for Speed to get some session guys and cut an album of half-assed standards and originals, and take a vacation. Wrong. Iffy is the most experimental, fun, and insistent jazz album that I've heard in quite some time." - Jason Olariu, Alternative Press
The Set List:
1. “WFMU” (Chris Speed) (0:00 - 7:32)
2. “Stompin’ at the Savoy” (Edgar Sampson) (8:31 - 15:08)
3. “La Rosita” (Coleman Hawkins/Ben Webster) (16:11 - 23:14)
4. “Tricotism” (Oscar Pettiford) (24:05 - 31:05)
5. “K” (Chris Speed) (32:10 - 38:23)
6. "Introspection" (Thelonious Monk) (40:33 - 45:35)
7. "April" feat. saxophonist Oscar Noriega (Lennie Tristano) (49:13 - 55:55)
8. "Iris" feat. saxophonist Oscar Noriega (Chris Speed) (56:33 - 65:12)