Endangered Blood - Don't Freak Out

Label: Skirl Records, 2018

Personnel - Chris Speed: tenor saxophone; Oscar Noriega: alto saxophone; Trevor Dunn: bass; Jim Black: drums.


The quartet known as Endangered Blood boasts a creative frontline with Chris Speed and Oscar Noriega on tenor and alto saxophone, respectively, and a powerful rhythm team composed of Trevor Dunn on bass and Jim Black on drums. Their third work of originals, Don’t Freak Out, is a melange of well-integrated genres, consisting of eight compositions with equal parts humor and bite.

Dunn’s stalwart round bass launches “Passion Fruit Birthday Cake”, a sympathetic, utterly motivating song gearing towards a calypso-like rhythm. The sumptuously seductive “Koreana” relies on a melody that recalls Ravel’s “Bolero”. The sound is pure and the character affable.

The stretchable “Easy Blues” sounds naturally familiar, but causes some apprehension on the account of being played in five. The loose, groovy feel that comes from Dunn and Black’s interaction impels the reedists to deliver nimble phrases impregnated with ins and outs. Also played in five and brimming with fine melodies and ostinatos, “Waiting For Marni” provides you with a breezy classical/jazz experience.

With “Varmints” and “Complimenti”, the band jumps confidently into the avant-garde. The former piece commits to a gutsy-saxophone-lines-meet-spunky-rhythms aesthetic, whereas the latter glides with smoothness, throwing in unisons that gravitate with joy and in abundance on top of a swinging pulse.

The pronouncedly folk theme of “Diego Partido” is spelt with classical-like articulation and finds the band in full dance form. In contrast, the improvisations are unrestrainedly eccentric, bursting with energy while evoking the works of greats such as Albert Ayler and Frank Lowe.

By closing out the album with “Bella V”, a ballad that practically touches the mainstream, the quartet made me think of Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” due to some similarities in the melodic contour.

Tidier and more accessible than in previous efforts, Endangered Blood varies dynamics and mood while maintaining the vivid spark of creativity.

Grade  B+

Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Passion Fruit Birthday Cake ► 03 – Easy Blues ► 04 - Varmints