The selections on the recording draw from a repertoire of modern jazz tunes written by Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Thelonious Monk, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, and John Coltrane. Jazz Speak saxophonist and flautist Ryan Kauffman also contributes an original tune "Yes Bossa" and an arrangement of the traditional tune "Shenandoah." Drummer Brock Woerner penned an original, "Trinidad" that concludes the recording.
"Trinidad," as one might expect, has a Caribbean flair to it and is very reminiscent in spirit to Sonny Rollins’ "St. Thomas" including a drum solo that is right on the mark with the one recorded by Max Roach in the 1950’s. Kauffman’s "Yes Bossa" is as advertised, a medium tempo bossa nova. The soloing on the tune by guitarist Gary Wenzel is noteworthy for its restraint yet wonderfully complex lines that weave through the tune’s changes. Other performances that deserve specific mention is the combo’s treatment of John Coltrane’s well known "Naima" and "Little Sunflower" penned by Freddie Hubbard. Although the same pedal points in the bass are present as in Coltrane’s original, rather than as a down tempo ballad Jazz Speak performs the tune as more of a medium tempo tune with a slight Latin accent. Kauffman’s wonderfully low and exotic flute sound dominates in the group’s performance of "Little Sunflower." The tune also features a sparsely accompanied solo by bassist Mike Wittrien in the quartet’s interpretation of Hubbard’s composition.
For listeners to jazz who enjoy clean, crisp sounds from a swinging, straight ahead modern jazz combo, Live certainly will satisfy a their expectations. This quartet provides a wonderfully unadulterated sound that would be a delight to any listener and a worthy addition to a CD collection. Certainly one looks forward to the next recording project of Jazz Speak.