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The David Ullmann 8: Corduroy

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Too often, when a jazz composer draws upon a specific conceptual inspiration, the link between that source and the music itself seems tenuous at best, impossible to determine without the aid of copious liner notes. But slipping David Ullmann’s Corduroy into the CD player for the first time without glancing at the accompanying press release, the dark, spiraling theme of opener “The Chase” immediately called to mind memories of TV detective shows of yore, with trenchcoated figures pursuing shady criminals in clunky, boat-sized cars.

Sure enough, vintage television themes are a primary inspiration for Ullmann on his new album, whose title refers back to the textured pants of the same era. Nostalgia is a primary emotion running through Corduroy, but that’s not to suggest that the disc is in any way retro or backward looking. Instead, the guitarist-composer has used the moods of his pop-culture past to color a strong octet set, with memorable melodies prompting thoughtful solos from a band able to slide easily from pocket to orbit.

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