For an ensemble named Focus, Marc Cary’s trio sure does prefer a panoramic array of styles. The opening track on Four Directions, “Todi Blues,” is a burbling compound of classical Hindustani raga and Washington, D.C. go-go, with the tablas of Sameer Gupta and the acoustic bass of Rashaan Carter providing an earthen bottom while the electric bass of Burniss Earl Travis II and a variety of electric keyboards from Cary surge and swirl. Back to a proper trio (Carter is a second bassist on three of the 10 songs), Cary honors influential former employer Betty Carter with “Waltz Betty Waltz,” which bristles in 3/4 time with the improvisational bop sass that was Carter’s signature. Midway through the disc, “Boom” is a pianistic tour de force, with Cary moving through Monk, Tatum, Tyner, Powell and a pair of unlikely Lewises, Meade Lux and Jerry Lee, in relentless succession. Two songs later he’s plugged in for a faithful cover of “Spectrum,” written by John McLaughlin for the Tony Williams Lifetime.
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