Stéphane Belmondo : The Same As It Never Was Before

French trumpeter Stéphane Belmondo puts his golden tone to good use on his hauntingly beautiful original “So We Are,” along with a buoyant cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You and I.” Master drummer Billy Hart is prominently featured throughout this outing, flaunting beautiful mallets work on “So Are We” and slick brushwork on the aptly named trio number “Free for Three.” Another jazz veteran, pianist Kirk Lightsey, who provides brilliant accompaniment (particularly on a vibrant rendition of Wayne Shorter’s “United”), is featured in an arresting duet with Belmondo on the forlorn ballad “Everything Happens to Me.” Bassist Sylvain Romano also makes strong solo contributions on “Light Upon Rita” and “Habiba (Intro).” American jazz fans need to know about Belmondo.