Pat Metheny/Tap (Nonesuch): On his selections from John Zorn’s Book of Angels, Pat Metheny oscillates wildly from the near silence of carefully picked acoustic instruments to the cacophony of electric ones whose impact is only heightened through the muscular percussion of Antonio Sanchez. Sounding at once like everything and nothing you’d expect from a Pat Metheny solo project, this isn’t liable to appeal to fans of his Group, but that audience might do well to display the same adventurous spirit that the musician/composer does here.
Joshua Redman/Walking Shadows (Nonesuch) Strings swell to the fore at the very outset of the first track here, followed instantaneously by Joshua Redman’s readily-identifiable saxophone. As the album progresses, there are just enough intervals sans orchestration to emphasize the restraint utilized by Redman and co-producer pianist kindred spirit Brad Mehldau that ultimately heightens the impact of the lush orchestration when it appears. It’s a mark of their experience together and apart they utilized each other’s strengths in such complementary fashion.
Michel Camilo/What’s Up> (Okeh): The Dominican pianist has never sounded more fluent in the languages of his chosen instrument as on this appropriately titled album. From the barrelhouse boogie of the title tune that opens the solo piano work to the more cerebral likes of what follows in the form of “A Place in Time,”, his command of the ivories is authoritative and elegant. The absence of a rhythm section is never noticeable through the course of this arresting album.
Eric Revis/City of Asylum (Clean Feed): Establishing an intense state of collective concentration with the downbeat that begins the first track, it’s simple to see how Eric Revis has remained a stalwart within The Branford Marsalis Quintet for sixteen years. With Andrew Cyrille on drums and Kris Davis on piano, the bassist makes great strides in developing his own personality with this album as the three musicians usually prefer to dive directly into the dissection of rhythm and melody; this approach makes for challenging listening to be sure, but for the listener who relishes detailed improvisation, a most rewarding experience
The Branford Marsalis Quartet/Four MF’s Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis Music): Alternately sultry and scorching, this album belies the casual informality of its title. No doubt inspired by both their extended tenure together and the challenging, memorable original material supplied by pianist Joey Calderazzo, BMQ explore the rhythm and melody of tunes without losing their inner pulse or fundamental motif and, in doing so, the musicians maintain their individual personalities even as they forge a collective persona as the group.