Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly: Last Year’s Ghost

Much of the material on this album by Chicago drummer Mike Reed was born in free-improvisation sessions, and the resulting tracks retain a spur-of-the-moment feeling despite their later expansion into full-fledged compositions. A unique quintet lineup with alto sax, vibes, cello and bass wraps a dark, velvety texture around vaguely nostalgic ballads, and adds density to surging, uptempo grooves. In between, dense thickets of creaks, groans, scribbles and burblings appear in short linking tracks of about two minutes each, enhancing the disc’s episodic atmosphere.