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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Single Malt Recordings SM 004



1. Good Riddance!
2. You'll Thank Me Later
3. M. Tati
4. L.F.E.I. (Let's Get It Started)
5. Coffee 'n' Scotch
6. Lotus Blossom
7. Out Of Nowhere
8. In Confidence
9. Borderline

Chris Greene - Saxes
Damian Espinosa - Piano, keyboards
Marc Piane - Double bass
Tyrone Blair - Drums, percussion


Playing jazz is a tough way to make a living. Trying to catch a breakthrough - either a great recording or a highly rated in-person performance - takes great perseverance. And more than not, a little luck. Saxophonist Chris Greene has been playing in and around the Chicago area since the early 90s and is still waiting for the big opportunity that will give him a national audience. Although he has released two previous CDs, Merge, his latest effort with his full-time working band, is meant to take that next big step.

With this nine-track set, Greene and his band offer up a mixture of original compositions, jazz standards from the likes of Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Green, and tunes from pop icons such as Madonna and the Black-Eyed Peas. Given this concoction, the results are not entirely satisfying.

The set leads off with a Greene original Good Riddance! a mid-tempo offering that confirms his strong sax work and the group's ease in playing with each other. This is followed by two other Greene compositions, You'll Thank Me Later and M. Tati, the latter showcasing the talents of Damian Espinosa, piano and Marc Piane on bass. While the group's efforts on these tunes are exemplary, there is a certain similarity to these pieces that is distracting. Working with better material, the group's explorations on Strayhorn's Lotus Blossom and Johnny Green's Out Of Nowhere are more successful. Here they play in a fashion that demonstrates what a working band is all about, again with Espinosa and Piane showing their worth on the latter composition. Espinosa is also at the forefront on his own tune In Confidence. We should not forget the other sideman in the aggregation, namely drummer Tyrone Blair who makes his presence felt in another Greene composition Coffee 'n' Scotch.

At the end of the day, however, this is Greene's gig and he is the glue that holds the band together. While he plays with self-assurance and conviction, it may not be enough to make the leap from Chicago to countrywide prominence.

Pierre Giroux

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