It might come as no surprise that Taylor Ho Bynum’s original work draws inspiration from Anthony Braxton and the late Bill Dixon, two of his musical mentors. The real head-scratcher arrives in the way these adventurous influences commingle with, in separate cases, the swing of big band and the soulful grooves of Prince. Even more impressive is the PlusTet, a “dream team” of 15 forward-thinking musicians that straddle freedom and composition with an unerring sense of taste.
In “Sleeping Giant,” short interjections from the ensemble give way to Nate Wooley’s trumpet smears and some collective whooping. More solos spread over a unique ostinato created by a blend of guitar, vibes, bass and drums. But halfway through, the group morphs into what Bynum calls a “purple hue,” evoking a Prince vibe. Even as the group again engages in more solos, the R&B-laden background makes perfect sense.