All that Jazz

All that Jazz:
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When trumpeter Justin Ray moved from New York City to Asheville with saxophone player and friend Jacob Rodriguez in 2008, he wasn’t sure what to expect, other than cheaper rent.  But the 30-something horn players, members of Grammy-winning singer Michael Buble’s band, have found a home in the city’s increasingly diverse musical community.

With clarinetist Steve Alford, bassist Mike Holstein, and drummer Ben Bjorlie, they’ve created jazz ensemble Spork!, which recently released a live double disc spotlighting the band’s frenetic, free-form energy. Recorded at Asheville’s Rocket Club (since closed) and The Magnetic Field, the CD’s 13 original tunes are deeply rooted in instrumental jazz, but incorporate soul, funk, and rock grooves. The two-hour compilation lets the players reveal their musical personalities, from Ray’s love of ’50s and ’60s hard bop to Rodriguez’ nods to Charlie Parker, and Alford’s angular, avant-garde clarinet lines. Meanwhile, Holstein and Bjorlie’s low-end beats keep it all tied together. Mostly spoon but part fork, Spork! serves it up right.