Cuong Vu: Pure

The outstanding young trumpeter Cuong Vu draws ideas from a wide variety of sources, so that from CD to CD you’re never sure what aspect of his interests he’s going to emphasize. On this live trio album, he and bassist Stomu Takeishi, along with drummer John Hollenbeck, explore electronic effects: Vu employs two delays and a reverb unit; Takeishi a boomerang looping device. The emphasis here is on textural variety. Vu not only uses electronic equipment, but growls, shakes, rasps and choked tones. Takeishi also uses a wide variety of effects, bending notes and improvising over a repeated figure he’s stated. Hollenbeck performs admirably as well, whether stating the beat, acting as a colorist or moving into the front line.

The lovely music here generally develops in a leisurely, sometimes hypnotic manner, with beautiful harmonies being produced. “Child-like” and “Vina, All Grown Up” illustrate Vu’s ability to write fresh, spare, pretty themes. “Pitter-Patter” is an exception here, a groove-oriented piece on which Cuong Vu swings infectiously and plays complex lines. Note also his soft attractive tone, which seems to have broadened lately.

Throughout the album the trio’s interplay is exemplary. Each group member listens to and enhances what the others are doing and never gets in the way.