December 2005

Cuong Vu
It's Mostly Residual

Like Dave Holland and Dave Douglas, two alt-jazz heavies who recently started their own labels, New York-based trumpeter Cuong Vu opts for the D.I.Y. route on his latest disc, It's Mostly Residual. A bold move, perhaps? Well, not exactly: Vu, a musician who is both adventurous and mindful of structure, says that none of his favorite labels--ECM, Winter & Winter, Blue Note and Verve--were interested in releasing his new album. But even if the Pat Metheny Group member's latest was conceived from a point of weakness, Residual would've--should've--been the highlight of any release schedule.

Vu's new album is a fine example of what jazz can sound like when embracing the present moment--or, at least, when it isn't embracing the past. Vu's lithe rhythm section, drummer Ted Poor and bassist Stomu Takeishi, mimic the abstract skitter-and-throb of grime and avant techno. Guest guitarist Bill Frisell lets rip with some all-too-rare metallic licks (one ticket to the Torture Garden, please). And Vu gets downright neopsychedelic when he solos, filtering his Miles- and Cherry-influenced blowing through a bevy of note-stretching effects. Humble origin aside, the music itself is anything but.

Originally published in December 2005

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