Exposé Online banner

Cuong Vu 4-tet — Ballet - The Music of Michael Gibbs
(RareNoise RNR079, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-08-08

Ballet - The Music of Michael Gibbs Cover art

The last Cuong Vu release I heard was from his band Indigo Mist, which is heavily electronic. The 4-tet features Ted Poor (drums) and Luke Bergman (bass), who are also in Indigo Mist, but this is a much more acoustic affair, with Vu’s trumpet paired with Bill Frisell’s guitar rather than keyboards and laptops. Ballet is a live recording of music written by Michael Gibbs, and could perhaps be viewed as a reciprocal tribute to balance the NDR Big Band album where Gibbs presented a set of Frisell’s music. The trumpet work is outstanding, somehow both tasteful and adventurous, exploring the harmonic reaches of the compositions, with a clean tone unadorned by electronics. Vu is one of the outstanding trumpet players working today, and the breadth of his playing is impressive, ranging from lyrical ballads to edgy uptempo romps that venture into adventurous harmonic territory. Frisell may be known these days for his legato phrasing and interpretations of American folk tunes, but it’s worth remembering that he’s got another side as well — remember he was in Naked City with John Zorn. This set gives him the chance to show both sides, with some tracks having a blues base, and others venturing into more avantgarde styles. The standout is the longest track, “And on the Third Day,” originally recorded on 1970's Michael Gibbs. The dramatic chord progression provides an excellent springboard for both Vu and Frisell to show their stuff, playing off each other in ever-intensifying phrases, culminating with a solo that counts as the wildest thing I’ve heard from Frisell in ages. The album was recorded live in 2016 at Meaney Hall on the University of Washington campus, which is right next door to the office where I work, and I’m kicking myself for missing this amazing performance. Thanks go to those who preserved it and have released it for all to enjoy.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Bill Frisell, Michael Gibbs, Cuong Vu

More info
http://music.cuongvu.com/album/ballet-the-music-of-michael-gibbs

Latest news

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Gregg Bendian - Jeff Gauthier - Steuart Liebig - G.E. Stinson - Bone Structure – Superstar improv jams can be inspired by many attributes including astute listening, profound musicianship and abandoned release. Varying doses of each of these ingredients is found in these twelve...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues