by Mike Greenblatt, Acquarian Weekly

In the grand tradition of a trio—sax, bass, drums—with no chords, just the way the legendary Sonny Rollins pioneered it, comesMike Casey’s selfreleased The Sound Of Surprise: Live At The Side Door, seven first-takes of Casey alternating between his alto and tenor saxophones in his native Connecticut with bassistMatt Dwonszyk and drummer Corey Garcia providing empathetic accompaniment.Casey can blow. He can also compose as his sterling “Dagobah” rambles on for over eight minutes with no lag whatsoever and his “Heartbreak” is, arguably, the highlight. Ornette Coleman’s 1959 “Turnaround” gets a modernistic makeover while Jackie McLean’s 1958 “Little Melonae” ends it all with a jam lasting over 10 minutes. Then there’s John Coltrane’s 1962 “Miles Mode” (many jazz historians swear Eric Dolphy wrote it) that zig-zags for a satisfying 8:29.Add KurtWeill’s 1928 “Mack The Knife”plus drummerGarcia’s impeccable opener “Hydraulics,” which sets the scene beautifully, and you’ve got, quite possibly, one of the best jazz debuts of 2017 so far.

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