John Vanore & Abstract Truth: Contagious Words

Ambitious writing and arranging for 12-piece ensemble by Philly-based trumpeter John Vanore, a Woody Herman alumni from the ’70s Herd. This third release by his Abstract Truth opens with the leader’s plaintive tones on the hauntingly beautiful “Envy.” The well-crafted, odd-metered “Substructure” blends French horn, two trombones and bass trombone on the frontline as a full complement of trumpets engage in an active, contrapuntal conversation, building tension throughout the piece. Trumpeter Kevin Rodger contributes a stirring orchestration of the romantic ballad “You Go to My Head,” with some lyrical alto sax work from Michael Mee. The edgy, avant garde-ish “Restless” boasts ferocious overblowing from tenor saxophonist Bob Howell, who switches to bass clarinet on the epic “Dreams.” Other highlights include the Bitches Brew-influenced number “Felony” and the classically swinging big-band sound of “Recess.”