Chase Baird's Album "Crosscurrent" Receives great review in Downbeat!!
One of the first things that strikes the listener to this freshman offering is the confidence and fearlessness that Chase Baird brings to the tenor saxophone. The 22 year-old Salt Lake City native has a full-frontal sound and brooks no hesitation when spinning lines and phrases; he goes for the gusto every time. It's not surprising that a youngblood would play hard, fast and pack lots of notes in to his solos--that's to be expected. What's remarkable is the clarity and logic of his ideas. As prolix an improviser as Baird is, there's very little excess in his work.
the sound of the band is that of a contemporary jazz outfit, one that has internalized, say, Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra to the point of not having to reiterate their respective musics. John Stori's electric guitar and Julian Pollock's keyboards are restrained in volume in the largely supportive roles they play. Baird's originals are full of time changes and shifts in mood, and usually proceed in a linear manner--with few great crescendos or ascending thrusts. While this generally challenges his players, sometimes tunes like his modal "The Traveler" can be aimless and overly long. Likewise, the torpid "Dusk" is a study in note-shaping and articulation that overstays its welcome of more than six minutes.
Baird has cited Gato Barbieri as an important influence, and the latter's handling of bob Haggart's venerable ballad "What's New" gives a clue to his identity. He has a full, florid tone that expands on held notes yet sidesteps Barbieri's blowtorch sound. He draws out the notes languidly over drummer Christopher Tordini's slow backbeat. Like many a young player, Baird can't resist doubling up and packing a chorus with filigree that can shinny up into overtones. If this is Baird's entry point, it'll be interesting to trace his trajectory from here.
--Kirk Silsbee 3 1/2 Stars