Origin 82558


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Speak has arrived with something to say.
Gwendolyn Elliott, City Arts

With the release of their eponymous debut album, the Seattle-based quintet speak has established itself as a new, distinct voice in improvised music. Despite having roots planted firmly in a wide range of decidedly ?un-jazzy? genres, the prodigious members of this outfit have each spent a great deal of time cultivating a deep appreciation and understanding of the jazz idiom. Thusly, speak?s awe-inspiring sound is just that: the spirit of jazz captured, re-imagined, and masterfully presented in a new, electrifying context.

The band has forsaken familiar swing-a-ling stylings and clearly-defined solos for big backbeats and collaborative improvising. Eschewing the forms of the past for new, non-traditional compositional structures, speak utilizes each piece as a framework for collective free-playing. The virtuosic instinct of these musicians is ever-apparent in their every performance. Delicate melodic currents devolve into convulsive, thunderous tumult. Incredible walls of harmonic beauty collapse beneath the forces of violent, visceral bashing. Disorienting sonic territories are populated by disparate musical entities that eventually coalesce and emerge in triumphant, unified denouement. In the brilliant and genre-melting music of speak, the boundary between composition and improvisation is indistinguishable.

Members of speak have been nominated for several Earshot Jazz Golden Ear awards and has graced the cover of their monthly publication. Additionally, the ensemble has been featured at the Gene Harris Jazz Festival, The IMP Festival, Sounds Outside Festival, and also The Ballard Jazz Festival on several occasions. The members of this speak have shared the stage with the likes of Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, Eyvind Kang, Ted Poor, Stomu Takeshi and Wayne Horvitz to name a few.

Track Listing:

1 Amalgam in the Middle
2 People or Cats
3 Polypockets
4 Mustard Knuckles
5 Pure Hatred
6 Litany Split


speak is:
AARON OTHEIM - keyboard
ANDREW SWANSON - saxophone
CUONG VU - trumpet

Production Info:

Produced by Luke Bergman and Speak
Recorded August 27-30, 2009
at Die Alone Studios, Ellensberg & Seattle, WA
Recorded & mixed by Luke Bergman
assisted by Vinnie LaBelle
Mastered by Mell Dettmer
Cover design by Kristian Garrard

Reviews of Speak

City Arts (Gwendolyn Elliott)
Seattle free jazz quintet Speak hasn't been around a while ? the group just formed in 2008 ? but that hasn't kept them from attracting attention. They're the newest signers to local jazz label Origin Records and have lined up gigs from clubs in New York to jazz festivals in Europe. Their six track debut of original compositions is a 45 minute progr ...

All About Jazz (Jon Solomon)
Forward-thinking trumpeter Cuong Vu has performed with the likes of Pat Metheny, Laurie Anderson and David Bowie. He's toured the world and released four albums under his own name. After a stint in New York, Vu moved back to the Northwest, where he is now assistant professor of jazz studies at the University of Washington. It's there at UW that ...

Earshot Jazz (Peter Walton)
For many, introductions to the band Speak came with last April's Andrew D'Angelo benefit concert at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Sheperd Center. Concluding a night of emotional performances from Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell, Cuong Vu, Robin Holcomb, and Eyvind Kang, the band, then billed as Cuong Vu's University of Washington Student Ens ...

Freejazz Blog (Stef Gijssels)
Trumpeter Cuong Vu is a very demanded and active musician. He plays with Pat Metheny, he has his own quartet, and plays on the album of many other musicians (Myra Melford, Chris Speed). His last album, "Vu-Tet", already dates back from December 2007, but here we find him back on new albums by two young bands, adding more than just his trumpet-playi ...

Earshot Jazz (Peter Walton)
A good deal of excitement surrounded Speak in the year preceding the release of their self-titled debut. The quintet's growth has been fascinating to watch, and having now released an album commensurate with their talents, it would not be surprising for 2010 to be a big year for the ensemble. Featuring saxophonist Andrew Swanson, trumpeter Cuon ...

All About Jazz (John Barron)
The Seattle-based quintet Speak explores a multitude of musical moods with their eponymous recording debut. An exemplary model of genre-defying music, the disc features original compositions that delve into odd-metered progressive rock grooves and spontaneous bursts of improvised sound that are at times explosive. The opening cut "Amalgam in the ...

All Music Guide (Adam Greenberg)
The quintet Speak build their music strongly around the motives of collective improvisation, a hallmark of traditional jazz. They do this, however, with the stated intent of challenging traditional jazz ideas. The resulting music is an odd beast. With a love for distortion effects and massive noises, the album opens with a brief Brubeck-like intro ...

JazzReview.com (Thomas R. Erdmann)
That there is still, in this jazz label-less era we currently live in, a place where experimental jazz can find a home and a means to release music that is not self-produced and released is to be celebrated. Origin Records has almost singlehandedly taken on the mantel of being such a location. Their release of Speak, the eponymously self-titled ...

BBC (Laura Bellini)
Seattle-based quintet Speak is an asymmetric outfit, the only previously well-known member being trumpeter Cuong Vu (who has collaborated with Pat Metheny). The rest of the ensemble is comprised of Vu's students, met at the University of Washington. Speak, strong with the boldness that comes of youth, are unapologetic from the start. Opener Amalga ...

JazzChicago.net (Brad Walseth)
Some of the most exciting music of the year has emerged from Seattle, where Saigon-born trumpeter Cuong Vu (Pat Metheny) teaches at the University of Washington; and on Speak, the faculty advisor sat in on this recording with some of his talented students on an album of their original compositions. Citing varied influences from Ligeti to Toto, Spea ...

Cadence (Jay Collins)
Too often, the Jazz press laments the lack of mentorship in Jazz, with too many musicians coming right out of the conservatory without continuing oversight from more seasoned musicians. While the youngish 40 year old Cuong Vu might seem an unlikely "Jazz Elder," various playing experiences with the likes of many cutting-edge New York City groups, a ...

New York Jazz Record (Matthew Miller)
For all of his sonic manipulations, kinetic energy and creative focus, trumpeter Cuong Vu never strays far from a strong melody. It is a unifying element in a professional career that has spanned nearly 20 years with his own idiosyncratic groups and associations with artists like Pat Metheny, David Bowie and Laurie Anderson, among many others. On t ...

All About Jazz (Ian Patterson)
Former students of the jazz program at Washington University, Seattle, electric bassist Luke Bergman, drummer Chris Icasiano, keyboardist Aaron Otheim and saxophonist Andrew Swanson have clearly benefitted from the guiding hand of their professor, Cuong Vu, who guests on this fine debut recording, where the playing is as impressive as it is kaleido ...





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