At first, trumpeter-composer Cuong Vu’s Vu-Tet (featuring saxophonist Chris Speed, electric bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Ted Poor) is just confusing. The first track, “Intro,” is all tranquil atmospheres. The second, “Accelerated Thoughts,” is noisy avant-fusion. Yet as the album progresses, a rationale for this contrast comes into focus: the first two tracks mark the boundaries between which the Vu-Tet explores. The confusion yields first to intrigue, then enthrallment at Vu’s musical vision, which, for the rest of the disc, involves wrapping his lyricism around both the introspection and agitation. On the lovely “Now I Know (for Vina),” Vu and Speed duet on the melody, then trade languorous lines full of spaces for each other’s fills. “Never, Ever, Ever,” meanwhile, is full of menace, the horn solos moving in a panic thanks to Poor’s frenetics and Takeishi’s dissonances.
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