Trumpeter Cuong Vu is back in Seattle after spending years in major market cities such as New York and Boston working with numerous progressive-jazz luminaries, including a stint with guitar hero Pat Metheny. Here, Vu aligns with formidable young Seattle musicians, bassist Luke Bergman and drummer Evan Woodle to round out the group with eminent woodwind artist and Seattle expat Andrew D’Angelo, who currently resides in New York City.
Vu’s atmospheric and sometimes electronically treated horn-work is true to form. More important is that the band covers quite a bit of musical turf and sustains interest with a persuasive and highly-energized program. Featuring loose groove intergalactic funk and quirky developments, the soloists also improvise atop understated themes and generate a few thunderstorms as well.
D’Angelo and Vu partake in torrid exchanges amid a gravitational-pull type approach, dappled with free expressionism and brazen fury. Moreover, the rhythm section hops, floats and punches out odd-metered time signatures and heavy-handed backbeats. At times Vu uses reverb processing to cast a haunting backdrop.
They venture into cosmic voids and summon a few daunting propositions along the way. Yet on “Felicia,” the quartet renders a sanguine ballad while concluding the album via a broad musical panorama on “Gently Shifting.” In sum, these gents are at the top of their game throughout this vastly creative set, underscored with power, tension, and massively sweeping soundscapes. – Glenn Astarita
Andrew D’Angelo: alto sax, bass clarinet; Cuong Vu: trumpet; Luke Bergman: electric