Jazz can make you do lots of things: think, marvel, want to improve on your instrument. But it can also make you feel good, and that’s what Riverside—the quartet of trumpeter Dave Douglas, tenor saxophonist Chet Doxas, electric-bassist Steve Swallow and Chet’s brother Jim on drums—accomplishes. Co-led by Douglas and Chet—don’t fret if you haven’t heard of the Doxas bros yet, they’re from Canada—the band goes for heart over head, chills over skills (although they have those, too, of course). Its eponymous debut album touches on folk, gospel and the blues, but never showiness, or virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake. This is music for the people—a river everyone can swim in.
The ensemble’s secret weapon is Swallow, who played with the group’s inspiration, the late clarinetist and saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre. At times, Swallow’s low end lends plugged-in urgency to the otherwise acoustic proceedings, so that the music rocks just as much as it swings. At other moments, his notes sing and comfort; consider “Old Church New Paint (Intro),” his soulful, time-stopping solo bass track on the album.
This week, Riverside brings its bright tenor sax, swaggering trumpet, sticky electric bass and ebullient drums to Jazz Standard. Don’t be afraid to get your feet–and ears–wet.—Brad Farberman