The idea of a pianoless quartet, proposed by Gerry Mulligan in the early '50s, foreshadowed such brilliant combinations as Ornette Coleman with Don Cherry, the Sonny Rollins-Jim Hall sessions and angelic "free jazz" units too numerous for the head of a pin. Detroit's Carl Michel, then, treads on hallowed ground with his latest CD and the cool moves captured thereon. Certainly the boss rhythm team of Gerald Cleaver (drums) and Tim Hood (bass) feels just right, subtly firm and responsive to the airy blue lines of Michael Graye (alto sax) and the spaced, angular meanderings of Michel on guitar. All the tunes are Michel's, some more fertile than others, particularly "Gray Day," "Bookablue" and "Whatever Blues." And on "Old House," it's great to get such relaxed, no-rush confidence from a band with seemingly nothing to prove, not a frenetic bone in its astral body. Shades of Ornette and Greg Osby infiltrate Graye's captivating alto sound; in fact, he's the imaginative fortune in this cookie.
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