The company Jeff Chan keeps on Winds Shifting, his debut on the Asian Improv label, underscores his status as one of the rising twentysomething tenor saxophonists on the local jazz scene. Francis Wong, leading saxophonist of the Bay Area's Asian American Creative Music community, guests on a couple of tracks, and the album as a whole is bolstered by arguably the heaviest rhythm section in contemporary improv -- Trevor Dunn (bass) and Elliot Humberto Kavee (drums/cello). The moment-to-moment surprises stirred up by the Dunn-Kavee duo provide Chan with a limitless foundation upon which to develop his meditative, deeply melodic statements.
Unlike Coltrane disciples who try to mimic the great saxophonist's phrasing and tone, Chan unpretentiously affects the latter-day Trane duality of peaceful yet relentless searching. There's zero anxiousness in Chan's playing, little upper-register skronk; each extrapolation attempts to instill the music with a sense of forward pitch and energized adventure. To this end, Chan employs a variety of compositional approaches, from the Ornette Coleman-inspired ferment of "Snap, Crackle, Pop"; to the groove vamp of "Infringe-ment"; to the hypnotic textural soundscape of "Dreams/Silver Skies," on which Kavee pairs his arco cello with Dunn's contrabass. Remarkably mature for his years, Jeff Chan's performance stands out as a model of thoughtful musicianship.
Jeff Chan appears with Francis Wong (tenor sax), Alec Ramsdell (piano), Adam Lane (bass), and Jerome Breyerton (drums) on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m. at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (between Folsom and Howard). Tickets are $6-10 (sliding scale); call 626-2169.
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