Francois Theberge and the Medium Band: Francois Theberge and the Medium Band

Just when you might think that intelligent, hard-swinging jazz can only be heard on reissues, here’s an unknown French soprano player leading an octet of unknown (to me) Portland musicians in a thoroughly satisfying outing. The style is roughly akin to the Blue Note avant sound of the ’60s, though the scoring for the five horns over the tight but spacey rhythm section is quite original. It’s the arranging and great group feeling that make this record outstanding, though the soloing is solid, too. The one slightly familiar name, tenor man Rob Scheps, has some breathtaking moments. There’s really nothing but good news here.