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.