Saturday, November 10, 2018

CD Review: Four from Out Now Recordings

Yoni Kretzmer's New Dilemma
Months, Weeks and Days

Thomas Heberer/Yoni Kretzmer/Christian Weber

Shay Hazan Quintet
Domestic Peace

Eric Plaks

(Out Now)

Out Now, the imprint spearheaded by saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer, released these four albums throughout 2018. Although several months have gone by since the music hit the streets, it's still worth talking about them, as they continue the label's track record of challenging, but quite impressive jazz.

Kretzmer brings a heightened level of intensity to a performance any time he picks up his tenor saxophone. During one solo of Months, Weeks and Days he yells in between sax wails, in the place where lesser players would simply take a breath. 

His New Dilemma project expands the scope of his work by adding cellist Christopher Hoffman and violist Frantz Loriot to the ensemble. Strings in free jazz can often result in shrill dissonance or metallic scrapes, but Loriot and Hoffman add some strong color to the music. "June 14th" starts with free frenzy but evolves like a Tim Berne piece, with cello, viola and bass (Pascal Niggenkemper) uniting in a powerful riff beneath Kretzmer and Josh Sinton, whose bass clarinet is a strong foil to the leader's tenor. This opens the second of two CDs in the set, while the previous disc ended with "June 20th," where the horns provide the drone and the strings play the melody. The music might feel dense and unrelentless but bright moments (the relatively soulful changes in "Jan 19th 2015") do exist in tandem with the heaving blowing. The cohesion of the group, rounded out by drummer Flin Van Hemmen, is astounding too.

Kretzmer is right at home on Big, which presumably was a freely improvised set, since all six tracks are credited to him, trumpeter Thomas Heberer and bassist Christian Weber. In this setting the saxophonist shows off the great range of his playing. While he can peel off some intense altissimo lines, he also contributes some smoky mid-range work, as evidenced in "Spine."

All three players are attentive listeners, creating in the moment something that sounds pre-determined ("Bait and Tackle") pushing each other towards upper levels of intensity or keeping it understated when required. The only minus with the set comes from Heberer's occasional vocalizations which probably attempt to imitate his horn but sound closer to insipid babytalk. Luckily once he stops, "Everybody in the Cemetery is Dead" becomes another spiritied three-way conversation.

Domestic Peace is the only disc of these four that wasn't recorded in the US. Bassist Shay Hazan took his group into a studio in Tel Aviv, which is also Yoni Kretzmer's birthplace. The quintet's music is a blend of tradition and free blowing, each track revealing a different approach. 

"New Year's Eve" opens the set with a slow, rubato melody. The only soloist is drummer Haim E. Peskoff who moves freely across his kit, marking a solo with dynamic pauses and thunder, thanks in part to a production that make him sound like a rock drummer. "Cycles" begins very much in the vein of Crescent-era John Coltrane before Tal Avraham takes it somewhere else entirely but reaching to the bottom of his trumpet's register for some grit.  "Hybrus," which comes in two consecutive parts begins with a free Cecil Taylor-esque romp before moving into a pedal point drone and finally a 7/4 groove, which again is driven by Peskoff's fire. Hazan doesn't put his own playing on much display here, but his compositions, solid accompaniment and, therefore, his leadership do all of that for him. 

Pianist Eric Plaks decided a few years ago to create a book of 100 themes that could be used as material for improvisations. Ideas would range from free flights to more structured approaches. At the time of Chrysalis was being assembled, he had worked out 34 such themes. Six of them appear on the disc, along with three improvisations. He is joined by Andrew Hadro (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, B-flat clarinet), Leonid Galaganov (drums) and on three tracks Evan Crane (bass). 

Without looking at the titles, it can be hard to discern the improvised tracks from the ones built on the Themes. Plaks and his crew do a good job blending the two approaches. "Ashes to Ashes" opens with a mutant boogie woogie riff, and features Hadro playing all three of his reeds. "Theme 1," based on a transcription of a Plaks solo, comes off like a thoughtful meditation, with linear changes built into it, as well a feeling that evokes ragtime. Dedicated to the late David S. Ware, "Theme 18" almost feels like a tango,, while a dedication to Cecil Taylor, "Theme 11," incorporates some of the embellishment techniques that pianist used in his '60s recordings. This Book of Themes concept is off to a strong start.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

CD Review: Aram Shelton & Håkon Berre - Dormancy/ Aram Shelton & Ole Mofjell - Uncovered

Aram Shelton & Håkon Berre

Aram Shelton & Ole Mofjell

Aram Shelton was becoming a significant part of the Chicago jazz scene in the early 2000s. Then he moved to San Francisco. He continued to perform at a brisk pace there, playing with several different projects and running his Single Speed label. Then he moved to Copenhagen. Even then, the alto saxophonist hasn't slowed down, recording two discs with two different drummers that he met while living there.

The alto/drum set-up is nothing new to Shelton, who released a set of improvisations with drummer Kjell Nordeson in 2012. In this context, he is just as likely to revel in the sonic possibilities of his instrument as he is to blow some choice, fragmented melodies. Shelton's co-conspirators on both albums incite different ideas from him, helping him choose how to utilize his horn.

Dormancy, recorded in last January in Copenhagen with Norwegian drummer Håkon Berre might be the more visceral album of the two. Shelton draws on techniques such as multiphonics - creating two saxophone notes simultaneously -  slapping the saxophone pads, making his horn growl like guitar feedback and creating a strong drone of overtones which he holds through circular breathing. Berre is a responsive player, sometimes holding back and clattering on metal and cymbals, and other times lighting a fire that gets the duo moving toward an intense climax. This sense of adventure can sometimes wear thin during a whole session but Shelton and Berre never get lost in their technique. The album features more than free squonk as well. "New Growth" opens with the saxophonist blowing pensive lines that add up to a great thought, while Berre calmly moves across his kit.

In contrast to Berre, Ole Mofjell's moves at a much faster pace even when he plays freely. His rapid rolls and movement across his kit don't relent for the first four minutes of Uncovered's opening title track. Shelton's contribution here comes in a line that he delivers with an equal amounts of speed and definition. Another lengthy track, the 12-minute "Aspect," builds like a piece with different sections built into it due to the way Shelton's phrases take different shapes. "Frame" has a bluesy quality that could be a reference to Ornette Coleman, while Mofjell's steady groove on "Bomba" recalls Ed Blackwell's tom-heavy work with that saxophonist. The connection between these two players makes this disc the stronger of the two, although Dormancy still has a strong blast of energy music.

Around the time that Shelton released these discs earlier this year, he was moving yet again, this time to Hungary. Hopefully he's found some like-minded collaborators there too.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Thoughts About Pittsburgh

I try to avoid starting a post with "It's been awhile since I've written." In the early days of the blog I did that a lot and it just comes across as overly apologetic in a way. I don't really think there is anyone coming here on a regular basis (i.e. not after seeing a link on social media) who is saying, "Aw, man!" when I haven't added anything in a couple weeks. 

But the events of the past week or so have sort of thrown me for a loop and put me in a frame of mind where I didn't feel ready to delve into an analysis of a new album, or talk about shows that have happened.

Pittsburgh made the national headlines last week when a gunman went into the Tree of Life synagogue and killed 11 people and wounded several others. This happened in Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood where I grew up. My childhood home is a little more than a mile down the hill from Tree of Life. The late Fred Rogers lived about two blocks from the scene of the crime. When the incident happened, my wife was at work, at the cemetery that's a couple blocks from Tree of Life. Our son was with her too. They were on lockdown for most of the afternoon. Of the people that died, one was the partner of my personal doctor. The father of a good friend of mine was badly injured and is still in the hospital. My friend has always been an easy living musician-type of guy. From the posts I've seen of his online, he's suddenly hit with a reality that he never dreamed of, having someone precious hanging in limbo. It's really changed his perception on the world around him.

How do you even begin to deal with that? How do you unpack the thought of someone going into a place of worship and killing people simply because they are there? What do you tell your kid? "Kid, the world is fucked up." And once you get beyond that, what can you say? Even before this happened, I often tell him to make the world a better place.

That night there was a vigil in Squirrel Hill. I didn't go because among other things I had a show that night. The wife and kid had gotten home and were a little exhausted so we all needed downtime. Then I felt guilty for not going to the vigil, like I wasn't doing my part, whatever little part that could be. I sat down and wrote a letter to the editor of the Post-Gazette. In it, I pointed out how, during the campaign trail, our current president encouraged supporters to "beat the hell" out of protesters. That attitude is more than prevalent these days: Don't like someone? Just kick their ass. Get rid of them. And that's how we got to where we are now. 

I didn't sent the letter. After doing so much internet research to make sure I wasn't misquoting the president, I was getting weary. And you know the old saying: you should never send an angry letter. It should be noted that I used the word "malarkey," so if it had run, maybe readers would think an old man wrote it. 

That night (Saturday), I got onstage for the first time since February. It wasn't with the Love Letters but with a pick-up group that played REM songs in a night of tribute bands doing whole sets by other groups. Everyone in the room had a heavy heart because, on top of the Tree of Life shooting, the word had gotten around that two nights earlier, there was another loss in music community. Jess Flati, who made up one half of the Lopez, had died suddenly from a heart attack. He was 40. 

I didn't know Jesse too well. The Lopez once played a show with the Love Letters a few years ago. His bandmate/wife Steph Wolf and I often ran into each other at shows and talked. But I interviewed Jesse for my first assignment at Pittsburgh Current over the summer. He was a sweet guy, gregarious, ambitious and really down to earth. The type of person we need more of in this world. 

At the show, people were hugging each other, crying a little (me included) but we were there for each other and the music lifted us. During the band Benefits' set of songs by the Cure (which was fabulous and made me think even more about burying my age-old resentment for that band), singer/show organizer Michael Baltzer asked us to look at the people around us and - only if we felt comfortable doing it - saying hi and, if appropriate, give each other a hug. I hugged my friend Greg Cislon, who was close to me. Oh yeah, and then the band played "Close to Me."

Our REM set went well. I got into this band because I was in the right place at the right time on the right night. Baltzer saw me at Howlers one night and said some friends of his needed a bass player to do the set. I said, sure why not. The next morning, he connected the four of us via Messenger. I have heard Joe Melba's name for a long time and saw him years ago in a band, but I never officially met him until I stepped onto his porch for the first practice. He was Bill Berry. Anthony Schiappa was Peter Buck and was great at figuring out all the guitar nuances of the songs. And he was patient while I caught up. Justin Cimba was our Michael Stipe. In a wild act of boldness, he flew up from New Orleans to do the show, arriving Thursday night before the show. We had time for one practice, which, thanks to my work schedule happened at 9:30 on Friday morning. During that practice, Joe got a call about Jesse Flati.

Tuesday morning was Jesse's funeral. There had been a viewing the day before. Since it was in Aliquippa, which is out past the airport, I was hesitant to go then, because I wanted to be home when my son got back from school and I knew traffic would be awful at rush hour. Still, I wrestled with myself over this, feeling like I making excuses when I should be showing some kind of support. So I made plans to go to the funeral, which was held in the funeral home itself. RIP Jesse. You drew an SRO crowd that day. 

In closing, I want to post a couple pics from shows that happened several weeks ago that I upoloaded but never got around to posting. The first comes from the CD release show Paddy the Wanderer's new album. I got there in time to hear the last song and a half (Grrrrrrrrr). But I love the expression on Chet Vincent's face as he looks at singer Joey Troupe. (Chet joined them for the last song.) 

And then there was the great show by Hearts & Minds, the trio of (left to right) Paul Giallorenzo, Jason Stein and Chad Taylor, one of my favorite nights of the year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

CD Review: Cuong Vu 4tet - Change In the Air

Cuong Vu 4tet
Change in the Air

While listening to Change in the Air through earbuds recently, the sound of Cuong Vu's trumpet took on an amazing quality. In the ballad "All That's Left of Me Is You," he sounded like Bobby Hackett, whose dreamy trumpet floated off in the distance on those classic Jackie Gleason albums on Capitol. Bathed in echo, Vu, like Hackett, conjured wistful thoughts that elevated the lyrics of romantic standards. Instead of a fleet of violins, "All That's Left..." had Bill Frisell doing similar things on the guitar, both accompanying and adding extra melody.

One song later, I realized that this sonic experience came about through carelessness. I wasn't hearing the full stereo recording because the earbuds weren't plugged in all the way. Once the jack was fully in place, there was Vu front and center. Not the same aural encounter, but still a great song.

For Change in the Air, Vu had everyone in the 4tet bring in original compositions. Drummer Ted Poor composed the first two tracks, each vastly different. "All That's Left of Me Is You" was written to sound like a ballad from the era in which Hackett was famous, and it contains some familiar harmonic turns. (This could be my ears, but the deep cut Neal Hefti ballad "Falling In Love All Over Again" comes to mind.) Rather than sounding derivative it creates a comfort level, aided a great deal by Frisell's warm sound and Vu's rich tone.

Poor also contributed "Alive" which feels like a waltz with a couple extra beats added every few measures. Bassist Luke Bergman holds it down with Frisell while the drummer and trumpet dig into the nuances of it. The loping feeling, and the way Poor plays off of that, add to the excitement which sets high expectations for what might come next.

Bergman's "Must Concentrate" begins with some folky guitar strumming and, following some bright tones from Vu, it gets heavier after Poor cues in some power chords. The trumpeter's "Round and Round" and its partner "Round and Round (Back Around)" feature Vu and Frisell locked into a deep rubato conversation that gets more dramatic as melodic phrases repeatedly come back around. Frisell's three pieces also have simple folk-like melodies which benefit from Vu's strong tone and the rhythm section's flexibility. The closing "Far From Here" is a gentle free ballad, combining a high lonesome (or "wistful," perhaps) quality with the open, free feel of Paul Motian, the latter due in large part to the guitar and drums.

Albums released under a leader's name typically build on one musician's vision, which is developed by a full band. When all the musicians in a band write for a session, the results can be diverse but a little too eclectic. Change in the Air lands at the ideal spot in between those poles. These 10 tracks offer a varied set that show each player's individuality and the compatibility within the group.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

CD Review -Tyshawn Sorey - Pillars

Tyshawn Sorey
(Firehouse 12)

For someone who is both prolific as a composer and in-demand as a sideman (click here for just a sample of proof) Tyshawn Sorey does not rush anything with his own music. This becomes clear in the opening section of Pillars, a single composition spread over three discs. The work begins with a drum roll that lasts nearly four minutes. The roll has no significant shifts in dynamics. Sorey may be toying with phase shifting a little as he plays it, although that could be my ears listening for variations. It's tempting to say this segment sets the tone for what will come over the three discs, each lasting about 75 minutes on average. But that's an easy cliche and it's not an accurate description either.

Sorey, who plays drums, percussion, trombone and dungchen (a Tibetan long horn) and conducts, is joined by four bassists - Joe Morris, Carl Testa, Mark Helias and Zach Rowden. Testa doubles on electronics. Morris also plays guitar, as does Todd Neufeld. Stephen Haynes (trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, alto horn and small percussion) and Ben Gerstein (trombone and melodica) complete the octet.

Pillars has a great deal of open space in the music. Things develop slowly, giving it plenty of room to breathe. When Neufeld plays acoustic guitar in Part I, he doesn't attack the strings fast and furiously. He sounds more methodical, like he's thinking deeply about what to play, as he casually vocalizes along with his instrument and Sorey adds some loose commentary from his trap kit. Throughout the entire piece, there are some moments when the volume knob might be cranked to fully grasp the work of the basses, for instance, only to have a brass blast make you jump five feet. A high frequency squeal comes about 50 minutes into Part II, threatening to spoil the whole thing for anyone who can't handle the high pitch. (A similar one comes in Part I, but Testa lowers its range quickly.)

The unsettling moments aren't limited to the shrill pitches either. Part III begins with a repetitive passage, where the basses bow a dissonant tone cluster and a answer comes from a quick guitar plink. This continues for four tense minutes before a trombone enters the fray for a solo that adds some haunting beauty to the scene. On the surface, this section can get under one's skin, but since Sorey takes his time, it encourages close scrutiny to figure out why he did it this way. Only then do you notice how the basses slowly move out of sync with one another, with one beginning to pluck instead of bow. When the trombonist (it could be either Sorey or Gerstein) is left alone, the slow transition makes it feel more dramatic.

It's kind of surprising that Pillars doesn't include any notes from the composer. Neufeld plays both acoustic and electric guitars, so it can hard to distinguish the latter from him or Morris. Same goes for the 'bone players, not to mention the bassists, who are panned across the speakers. Besides, a piece like this with so many sections begs from some guidance.

Sorey has said the work was inspired by Zen meditation, which explains the deliberate movement of the work. Low notes drone slowly, not creating a melody but setting a mood. They might happen in close proximity to three- or four-way bass passages or they might lead to the tolls of gongs and bells, which always sound rich and enthralling in Sorey's work. In other people's sessions, Sorey has made complex time signature swing as hard as an Art Blakey 4/4 groove. Here, he often reduces his trap work to simple pounds and crashes. But that's really all the music needs at that point.

While the subdued movement of the set does evoke the act of meditation, it also recalls work by Roscoe Mitchell (Sorey played on Bells for the South Side) and Bill Dixon. The Part III opening also invites comparisons to Morton Feldman. Ultimately, name dropping all of these composers in one paragraph indicates that Sorey is actually creating a new stream of music which might not have its own category as of yet.

Sorey explains that the flowing quality of Pillars means that shouldn't be considered "goal-oriented music...Actually I see the experience as meditative, akin to how it works with ambient music, so that you're almost 'listening without listening' - a Zen way of experiencing music," he says in the album's press release. In a really surprising turn, Pillars IV, the vinyl counterpart to the three-CD Pillars presents a different version of the piece which surely impacts the way it can come across to listeners. After listening to the discs several times, there is a temptation to discover out how it comes across edited down and delivered on vinyl. After all, Sorey has declared, "To me, the recording is the piece."

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Guitars of All Sorts Invade Pittsburgh

Lately, the writing assignments for Pittsburgh Current have been coming at such a rate, it almost feels like an actual full-time job. That's not a complaint in the least, but with the real job too, that doesn't leave much focus for things like blog entries. Then when I do have the time, I spent most of wondering if there's something else I should be doing. 

I turned 51 last weekend (October 7, for anyone who's keeping track) and while I didn't get the full day off from work, at least I didn't have to work the closing shift. After dinner with Mum and the family, I made it to Brillobox to catch the Major Stars, as well as local openers Terry & the Cops. (Dinner precluded getting to see the other opener, Ancient Skvlls [not a typo]). Major Stars are led by guitarists Wayne Rogers and Kate Village. For more background on the band, click here to see my preview on the show. 

Most bands have their personalities shaped by their singer. Not necessarily the case with Major Stars. Originally Rogers handled the vocals. But once he decided to devote all his attention to his guitar, three women have filled the slot, each bringing a dynamic set of pipes to the band. Noell Dorsey has been the vocalist for a couple years now and she has a voice that can hold its own when combined with the three-guitar onslaught of Rogers, Village and Tom Leonard. When the guitar solos were going - which was a major chunk of the set - she spent a good deal of time doing some impressionistic dancing/swaying to the music or, towards the end of the set, banging on a tambourine. She didn't seem to mind playing second fiddle to the guitars.

Some people might run screaming at the idea of three guitars, beaucoup solos and excessive volume. On paper it may seem like a dude thing, in the worst way possible. But Major Stars poked holes in that idea. For obvious starters, there's Village, who came off as the most physical player of the three. Armed with a hollowbody guitar, she ravaged it during the set, leaping offstage (almost colliding into several audience members) and working the feedback through it, with amazing and taste. Rogers also jumped towards us several times, in addition to stalking around the stage like a man with a mission. But he played with a sense of lifting the bandstand, not merely showing off. Leonard, who stayed back comparatively, had the tough task of maintaining himself between these two, and complementing Rogers' lines at times. He pulled that off in spades too. As far as volume, well, you can't have three guitars up there and expect to be polite and quiet.

Guitar music of a very different type was happening at Club Cafe this past Saturday. Bill MacKay grew up in Pittsburgh but moved away and calls Chicago his home. A couple years ago I wrote about an album he released with his band Darts and Arrows. More info about his recent work can be found here, in a piece I did for Pittsburgh Current

MacKay took the stage at a show that could have used at least a couple dozen more people. It was just him and an Epiphone, plus a few pedals and a glass slide. Something really peaceful and spellbinding happens when people play music this pure and honest. It's rich in melody, and filled with technique, which probably adds to the quality of it. But MacKay made it look easy to squeeze these harmonic fragments together with a little bit of fret noodling and a lot of focus. The show was so uplifting that the next morning, I took to social media in hopes of getting some friends out to see him play a free show at the Carnegie Library in Oakland. I'm not sure if anyone took me up on the idea of the 2 p.m. show, but one good friend bought some music online based on my tip, so I was glad to hear that.

I got there towards the end of a set by the local duo Pairdown, but liked what I heard. Most compelling was "70s Bert," a song inspired by guitarist Bert Jansch and another story about mystery and intrigue (I think), which they delivered with some gorgeous picking that was a direct link to Bert.

On the previous night, I was back at Brillobox for the album release by locals Mariage Blanc. (Read all about them here. See, I told you PC has become like a part-time job, rather than just freelance stuff here and there.) I realize I throw the word "dreamy" around quite a bit when talking about pop music, but the way guitarists Matt Ceraso and Josh Kretzmer play together, picking out complementing melodies, did sound pretty dreamy. Having listened intensively to Mirror Phrase, their new album, it was exciting to hear the music coming to life onstage. Not that the album lacks any humanity. But it is produced to sound like a complete work, whereas on Friday, I was watching four guys playing that music.

The only frustrating thing was the large contingent of people talking at loud volumes during the set. Unlike Major Stars, Mariage Blanc's music doesn't mow you down so much as pull you in. If you want to talk, people, go downstairs to that bar. You're not doing the band any favors. And you're missing out.

Mariage Blanc took what I like to call "the coveted second slot," between openers Andre Costello and the Cool Minors and headliners delicious pastries. I got there late (it was my first night not closing in several days, so I had family time) and I only caught the tail end of Costello's set. By the time delicious pastries went on, I was beat, bur I couldn't leave. These guys hardly ever play out and when they do, they make it Happening, combining the best of vintage psychedelic pop of the past and of the newer strain that comes from bands like Olivia Tremor Control. I caught myself nodding off while standing on my feet, and I still couldn't leave until they were done.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

CD Review: Geof Bradfield- Yes, and... Music for Nine Improvisers

Geof Bradfield
Yes, and... Music for Nine Improvisers

Considering this album comes from Delmark, which for decades has championed generations of free improvisers in Chicago, the title of Geof Bradfield's debut on the label gave the impression that this was going to be a session that might get pretty rowdy. Nine improvisers together can create a good ruckus. The opening "Prelude,"where Bradfield's tenor blows over a jerky vamp provided by bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall, didn't dispel the preconception either. Things never boil over but Bradfield takes some great intervallic leaps and the rhythm section gradually gets freer.

But the ensemble passages in "In Flux," which immediately follows "Prelude," take a different turn. They feature an airy, colorful blend of flute, bass clarinet, trumpets and trombone. Scott Hesse's guitar solos might toy with bar lines, but there isn't a trace of skronk to what he does. Then, if things seem to light, alto saxophonist Greg Ward changes all that in his all-too-brief solo, before one of the trumpets brings it back down. Something else is afoot here.

The Yes, and... part of the title is derived from an improvisational game used by the Compass Players. This theater group that originated in 1950s Chicago and has connections to comedy legend Shelley Berman (a personal hero), Second City (a successor) and Sun Ra (who was hired once to improvise behind the actors). In the "Yes...and" game, an actor would improvise a bit and the actor that followed them would use this phrase as a springboard to what they would then say, much like improvisation.

Bradfield used this concept for the whole album, which he wrote as a suite. "Prelude" and other short tracks like "Chorale" and "Ostinato" serve as quick breakout pieces for trios of the group. The remaining pieces present the whole group working together. The 14-minute "Anamneses" is the most successful of the longer ones. The ensemble moves in and out, sounding like they're agreeing with the soloists' thoughts. Hall's recurring woodblock hits act like a bonding agent to the setting. Anna Webber's bass flute gives the first section some rich color, followed by bigger dynamics and squawks from Russ Johnson's trumpet. Bradfield wraps it up with solo marked by some gruff vibrato.

Games of "Yes...and" probably went in directions that the players never expected. It was built on that sense of the unknown. In that same way, this album has a bit of a random quality that can be both engaging and disjointed. "Impossible Charms" leans closer to modern big band swing, with solos from trombonist Joel Adams and trumpeter Marquis Hill. The album concludes with "Forro Hermeto," a salute to the festive music of Hermeto Pascoal. It's a worthy ending, especially in the final minutes where the rhythm shifts into a highly-charged dance party. But on the basic listening level, it almost seems out of place considering all that has preceded it.

At this point, jazz music is open to all manner of composition approaches. Geof Bradfield has drawn on one from another artform that lends itself to the music. Although the results might be a bit far flung this time around, there are plenty of moments where the soloists and the ensemble passages bring it to life.