On his fourth recording, saxophonist Mike Casey traffics in classic styles to create music that bristles with contemporary topicality. Casey, who plays tenor, helms trios and quartets that mine the still-fertile ground of similarly sized units led by legends like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Joe Henderson. But with songs like “Feel the Bern” (yes, a dedication to a certain Vermont Senator), and covers of “No Church in the Wild” (a hit for Jay-Z and Kanye West with vocals by Frank Ocean) and “Unforgettable” (the Nat King Cole nugget turned into a ’90s pop smash by his daughter Natalie), the repertoire feels as of the moment as the Green New Deal or BLM.
“Feel the Bern” is an aptly assertive, cantankerous trio piece that features Casey along with bassist Matt Dwonszyk and drummer Corey Garcia. It seems as if the music is pushing against unseen boundaries, in a manner reminiscent of Branford Marsalis’ trio sides. “No Church in the Wild” rides a similar energy, but it’s contained and melodic, as the trio is joined by pianist Benito Gonzalez. “Best Part,” which returns to just three instruments, is a highlight with its confident, slower tempo and catchy hooks.
Two of Casey’s previous recordings were taken from live shows, and Law of Attraction has that kind of pacing and vibe. There’s a version of the album on YouTube with animated additions that highlight the spirit of the music, but Casey’s vigor and zeal translate just fine via traditional audio.