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Frank Carlberg: In the Land of Art

There’s more than a touch of the poet in pianist Frank Carlberg, whose In the Land of Art (Fresh Sound New Talent) features his skillful, often witty adaptations of the work of seven modernist bards including Jack Kerouac, Robert Creeley, Kenneth Rexroth and Gertrude Stein. Echoes of Steve Lacy’s pioneering work in this vein pervade Carlberg’s music-vocalist Christine Correa can’t avoid calling Lacy’s longtime diva (and wife) Irene Aebi to mind-but there’s an ingenuity and freshness to the album that makes a strong case for Carlberg’s own vision.

The jolting rhythms of his melodies call for a unified band conception, and Carlberg has found committed players including Correa, saxophonists Chris Cheek and Andrew Rathbun and drummer Michael Sarin. And while the leader gives himself room to shine, none of the other players is ever left out in the cold. The poems are conveniently reprinted in the CD booklet, a good thing since the breakneck tempos and darting phrasing can render the words unintelligible despite Correa’s valiant communicative attempts.

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