Human Feel: Cat Heaven


Cat Heaven


Human Feel


Galore (Skirl 006)

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Chris Speed (tenor sax, clarinet), Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar),

Andrew D’Angelo (alto sax, bass clarinet), Jim Black (drums, percussion)


Recorded: New York, 2007


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Human Feel is a freely improvised jazz quartet with a cult-hero status, and although you might not have heard of the band itself, you've most likely heard of some of its players saxophonists Chris Speed and Andrew D'Angelo, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and drummer Jim Black. Formed in Boston in 1987, the band released four records between 1989 and 1996, amidst all four members gradually relocating to New York during this time. In the mid-1990s, the busy schedules of all four members resulted in an extended hiatus. A decade later, the group reunited for Galore, an entertaining if taxing whirlwind of a record released on Speed's own Skirl label.

"Cat Heaven" is one of the album's more subdued and striking pieces, with D'Angelo's bass clarinet holding down the bottom while a lush wash of Black's percussion fills the space between Speed's clarinet and Rosenwinkel's guitar. Around 2 minutes in, with the basic cyclical structure intact, the players start experimenting with trills and rolls until an intense wall of sound has been built. A little after the 4-minute mark, there's a brief break in the action where the players begin a slow decrescendo towards the concluding vamp that ends where the tune began. Four modern masters clearly having fun in the studio.

Reviewer: Eric Novod


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