Review by Brad Walseth
Former Evanston native, saxophonist Chris Greene studied at the University of Indiana's prestigious Jazz Studies program before returning to Chicago in 1994. Since that time he's been working with other musicians in the regional scene in various configurations. On "Soul and Science, Vol. One" Greene and his quartet (pianist Damian Espinosa, drummer Tyrone Blair and bassist Marc Piane) dish up a tasty brew that mixes soul, jazz, R&B and pop into the enjoyable mix.
Espinosa's creative piano comping combines with Espinosa and Blair to propel Stevie Wonder's"“Boogie On Reggae Woman" into a full blown rave up, featuring Greene's extended solo lines. I hear a bit of Dexter Gordon and or Stanley Turrentine in Greenes style in that he never feels rushed even when he is burning it up.
"4.23" is a Latin-tinged original number, featuring Greene on some Coltrane-influenced soprano sax, that shows a great deal of promise. Not that the covers are bad by any means, but I’d like to hear more of Greene's songwriting if this song is any indication of his compositional talent. Pianist Espinosa adds another interesting solo here as well.
Tommy Turrentine's ballad "Bonnie" is given loving treatment with Greene's tenor caressing the melody and Espinosa providing a sensitive solo on the keys. However, perhaps the most unusual number here, Sting's "King of Pain," is a highlight. With Piane pushing the action, Blair interjecting explosive fills, and Espinosa exploring the ominous side of this pop song with unexpected dissonances, Greene floats along on soprano before taking an extended fiery solo before Espinosa explores some almost classical tangents. The result is a surprisingly satisfying and jazzy version of a pop/rock song. Meanwhile, the Ellington/Tizol standard "Caravan" is given a hot quartet treatment including a sparkling drum solo to end this agreeable recording.
The Chris Greene Quartet's blend of soulful jazz has been attracting a crowd around Chicago, and I suspect this trend will continue. Additionally, fans of their live show will I’m sure be quite pleased with "Soul and Science - Vol. One" and should pick up a copy.