Monday, May 9, 2016

Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny

You might think that after all this time Pat Metheny and his guitar playing/music styling have settled into a comfortable niche and will stay there ever more. It turns out that is definitely not the case. Beautiful evidence to the contrary can be heard on the new album Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny (Nonesuch). It is Cuong Vu out front of course, a vital trumpeter and bandleader-composer. He was a part of Pat Metheny's group for a long while and now Pat returns the favor by interjecting his nearly always brilliant self into Vu's considerable trio--Vu, the formidable Stomu Takeishi on bass, and the equally formidable Ted Poor on drums. Was Ted at Berklee when I was? Seems vaguely so to me but no matter. The idea is that this is a kick-out-the-jams trio who are avant and tight, who can swing in a rock enhanced, free or jazz pulsating way and make very considerable use of their collective imagination.

The music consists of five lively and musical Vu originals plus one by Andrew d'Angelo and one by Pat. They set the stage for some very considerable playing. Pat adds much to the proceedings, but always as a part of the resultant quartet, so you get plenty of Cuong, Stomu and Ted.

The music varies between a changes directed modern jazz to outness and sometimes some unexpected rock heaviness one finds works very nicely. Pat sounds excellent and transformative. You can hear a little of all "periods" of his playing coming into being here but tempered by time passing (and not in a bad way) and flying upwards to new levels. Stomu plays some exceptional electric bass and is post-Jaco but himself in his considerable presence. Ted blazes forth when he needs to, superbly. Both drive the four-way vehicle to where Cuong and Pat can thrive, soar, be subtle yet fired up too when needed.

I never quite know what to expect from couplings like this. This one is everything one might hope for and more. The sum of the parts make for something very special and it is a wonder to hear it. Bravo!

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