Speed thinks compositionally and cooperatively, a virtue no doubt nurtured through his tenure with Berne. Not everyone hears this: The critics of the popular Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD called his playing with Bloodcount "oddly diffident." Yet what may be misinterpreted as timidity is really collaborative tact (a willingness to create space for the other voices in an ensemble). This tasteful and complex approach to music-making serves Speed well in the Yeah No quartet, who appear at the Sweat Shop this weekend. Speed allows each bandmate -- trumpeter Cuong Vu, electric bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and ubiquitous drummer Jim Black -- to take center stage at various times (and not just on the solos) in an excellent demonstration of democratic leadership.
-- Sam Prestianni
Chris Speed appears on Saturday, May 2, at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at the Sweat Shop, 1943 Mission (at 16th Street). Tickets are $5; call 487-1903.