Pete Christlieb

(2004)

On Friday Henri’s in Canoga Park was cooking.  The John Hammond Trio–with Jim Hughart on bass, Ralph Penland drums—has been together a helluva long time, and they play like a real unit…to top it off, tenor sax ace Pete Christlieb has been playing with them for a long time now, probably for hundreds of hours.  They come together for some pretty intricate ensemble like arrangements that you just won’t see in most clubs.  It’s an older, more relaxed style of jazz, some classic Blue Note feeling, and then sometimes it reminds me of even older sessions, like the feeling that is on that Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio record.  Reaching back, these guys, to Prez and Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster.  Christlieb is just a superb saxophonist…he sits there on a stool between solos grinning and bouncing about like an oversized cherub,  and then he picks up his horn again and blows these long, bluesy cadenzas just packed with ideas, and then suddenly sails into an effortless–my vocabulary is failing me here–an effortless flight that just fills the room with so much energy.  And he makes it seem so easy.  I had been listening to that record he did with Warne Marsh, Apogee, on the way out there and damn if he didn’t quote it once or twice.  Christlieb with Hammond and his trio is yet another absurdly underrated jazz experience that this city offers, and they seem to play at least weekly.

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