Guitarist/composer Sean Bray leads a tight trio on a note-bending, bristling musical journey through Transcendence (Counterpoint Recordings CPR-012 52:59). The Canadian guitarist plays with a bluesy gait and wide-open rhythmic feel on tunes like "So Inclined" and the jangling, resonant "Vibe," but hints of darkness and improvisational spirit bubbling underneath give his hooky compositions added depth. "Three Shades of Haze," for example, draws upon Hendrix for an improvisational flight, twisting a familiar melody into distinct interpretive passages, from lightly rhythmic, to eerily hushed. "Machiavelli" finds Bray making a heavier statement, with his distorted guitar braced in the dark funk colors laid down by bassist Dale James and drummer Tim McIntyre. James and McIntyre prove much more than a rhythm section, though-their work, in pieces ranging from the softly explorative title track to the dramatic, mystical suite, "Thought I Heard the Bells," provides consistent and expressive counterpoint to Bray's original style of play.