Cuong Vu 4tet — Change in the Air
(RareNoise RNR091, 2018, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2018-12-21
Trumpeter Cuong Vu’s last outing with his 4tet was the excellent Ballet, which was devoted to the music of Michael Gibbs. With Change in the Air, compositional duties are shared among the players, with Vu, Bill Frisell (guitar), and Ted Poor (drums) each contributing three tunes and Luke Bergman (bass) contributing one. The quality is uniformly high, ranging from moody and meditative to edgy and energetic. My favorites tend to be the more upbeat pieces, like Bergman’s “Must Concentrate,” which starts out with a dual-guitar rhythmic motif that’s a bit like something Pat Metheny might have done in the early 80s, but then builds up to a grand climax. My overall favorite is “March of the Owl and the Bat,” a Vu composition that features Frisell’s most aggressive playing. The insistent rhythmic pattern, which is only very loosely related to a typical march, leads to some great work between the bass and drums. Some of the less energetic tunes have a pleasant wandering feeling, with the guitar and trumpet weaving around each other and Frisell dipping into the atmospheric folk-influenced sound he does so well. “All That’s Left of Me Is You” is a piece from Poor that sounds almost like a lost standard, something Miles Davis might have interpreted back in the 50s. Cuong Vu’s 4tet is an engaging ensemble, and Change in the Air is another great effort for them, a distinctive flavor of modern jazz that differentiates itself even though it doesn’t break with tradition in any extreme ways.
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more