Half Notes: Chris West, “Surprise 3” (2011)

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Nashville-based saxophonist Chris West continues an intriguing exploration of his own composition “Surprise,” this time alongside Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band. Appearing as the closing track on the new Disc 2 of his on-going Surprise Trilogy, “Surprise 3” finds West and Coffin intertwining through a series of conversational solos, going inside and outside, even as pianist Mason Embry, guitarist Ben Graves, bassist Greg Bryant and drummer Derek Phillips wail away on a straight-ahead rhythm that provides the perfect foundation. Soon the two saxophonists completely engulf these well-meaning rhythmists, however, launching “Surprise 3” into a noisy, scronking, deconstructive stratosphere – before finally plummeting back to earth in time for a restatement of the now-familiar theme. As with Disc 1 (and the forthcoming Disc 3, for that matter), this album begins and ends with a new version of West’s “Surprise.” This is the most incendiary yet.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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