“Talkin’ Blues” opens pianist Marc Copland’s latest album with a bit of deception. It’s not a blues, at least not one with a discernable familiar structure. What’s more intriguing, drummer Victor Lewis doesn’t play time throughout the seven-minute piece; instead, his well-placed rolls and cymbal crashes add color and motivate Copland and saxophonist Greg Osby to play some burning solos. The entire quartet, including bassist Doug Weiss, joins in the momentum and breaks free during Osby’s “Diary of the Same Dream,” which begins to gust before stopping abruptly. These tracks contrast “Slow Hand,” where Lewis plays so softly he’s almost missed, save for some accents with the brushes. Unsurprisingly, Copland’s gentler, more meditative writing lacks the impact of those earlier tracks, and the same can be said for a reading of “Tenderly” that sounds pleasant but plays it safe.
Things rebound toward the end of the set. Lewis’ “Hey, It’s Me You’re Talkin’ To” has a bright stop-start melody, and Copland solos with a strong blend of fast single-note lines and chordal accents that bob around the rhythm. Osby lets loose some intervallic jumps, and brings another wild and too-brief piece with “Three Four Civility.” Copland’s reading of Gigi Gryce’s “Minority” is modern and engaging instead of faithful and histrionic.