D.D. Jackson: Paired Down, Volume 2

At their best, pianist D.D. Jackson’s forays to the outside have the ring of considered composition as well as the fire of spontaneity. Taken by itself, each of Jackson’s performances has an integrity that is truly exciting. The less thrilling dimension of his playing is the tendency to arc from statement through outside improvisation to recapitulation. Collaboration seems to vary the contour of his performances, as witness this, the second installment of recordings matching Jackson and his compositions with a strong roster of leading edge players. Trombonist Ray Anderson, featured on three tracks, brings wit and melismatic fervor to the proceedings. Similarly, saxophonist David Murray, a Jackson mentor, keeps to the outside edge throughout, forcing the performance thread into unexpected twists. Jane Bunnett on flute skillfully negotiates the 7/4 “Flute-Song,” while violinist Billy Bang toys with intonation on the “Footprints”-like “Pleasure and Pain.” Don Byron’s near-classical approach to the clarinet produces the most reserved and most intriguing track on this variegated and provocative CD.