Aaly Trio and Ken Vandermark : Stumble

Unlike their flat-out free jazz encounter as 1/2 of FJF on Blow Horn (Okka Disc), neo-tough tenors Mats Gustafsson and Ken Vandermark downshift into the realm of compositional structure and thematic development for much of Stumble. In addition to a righteous reading of Charlie Haden’s “Song for Che,” the program includes two other simmering dirges, bassist Peter Janson’s “Umea” and Vandermark’s “Why I Don’t Go Back.” The program is rounded out by Vandermark’s woozy, bluesy title piece and “Hommage a Lillen,” a high-torque motif by Gustafsson and drummer Kjell Nordeson. While there is plenty of wide-open blowing space for the two saxophonists (Vandermark also plays a good amount of pungent clarinets), and the flexible, fluent Janson and Nordeson, there is an overarching ensemble cohesion that holds this album together.