First up, Chicago's own Spin Quartet. They've got a new album out called In Circles (Origin Records). Led by Seattle transplant Chad McCullough, this is an all-star group, featuring Geof Bradfield on tenor sax, Clark Sommers on bass and Kobie Watkins on drums. This piano-less quartet can kick up a storm when it wants to (as on "You Will Look for Yours On Earth") but it can also be nice and mellow (as on "Simple Song"). Considering the lack of a chording instrument, the band sounds surprisingly full, and it's definitely energetic and muscular as well.