Peter Madsen: Snuggling Snakes

Peter Madsen is an inventive composer, a skilled pianist and a positive pleasure. Ten diverse originals launch his first album as a leader (he’s been heard as the pianist with Three of a Kind). The sound ranges from a bluesy groove on the title track to exotic Latin-influenced “Maloca,” “Francesca” and “Joren’s Jungle.” The quartet features Chris Potter’s propulsive tenor, soprano and alto saxophones, plus guests guitarist-vocalist Toninho Horta on two tracks and violinist Rudi Berger on one. But it is the core trio of bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Lewis Nash that sparks the album, particularly the innovative interchanges between piano and drums, or sax and drums, unusual but tasteful departures from the usual jazz ritual of piano/bass/drums. Another departure is packaging the CD in slick but sturdy cardboard, not another one of those infernally delicate plastic boxes. The album also is available on vinyl. – Patricia Myers