Glenn Astarita

Glenn Astarita

With persuasive sonic assaults, ping-ponging stereo effects, and a web-like maze of improvisation, this trio tenders a modern psychedelic soundscape with avant-garde like tendencies. They shade the proceedings with a renegade New York City downtown aura, featuring phased-out guitar parts, booming bass ostinatos, pumping rhythms and dabs of chaos via the slow to medium-tempo grooves.

Volume 3 of influential trumpeter Dave Douglas's "Portable Series" casts yet another perspective of the artist's resiliency and broad vernacular.  The premise behind the three volumes, featuring different ensembles is based on informal gatherings, hearkening back to the olden days where musicians would align for pick-up sessions.  Otherwise, Bad Mango is not simply a high-octane bashing session, but offers a polytonal soundscape, spanning a diverse mix that is a nicely balanced package containing equal parts jazz and world music.  Neither genre supersedes the other, although an indigenous setting is laid out via the percussionists' multifunctional approach to the program.

Recorded May 4-17, 2010, at the historic Blue Note in New York City, this program is a baseline of sorts, framed on piano great Bill Evans' interminable legacy. However, one of the differentiators here pertains to the respective artists' signature voices. In other hands, a set like this may just fall into the retread bucket.

Many Dutch progressive-jazz musicians tend to inject dashes of humor into the grand scheme of things, evidenced by Talking Cows' witty and somewhat bawdy video on its website, also noted on the amusing album cover art.  Yet, the quartet takes a no nonsense musical approach and cuts to the chase with vigorous intent.  Vibrant and often multidirectional, they exude a persuasive small ensemble outlook with contiguous re-engineering processes and a brute force mode of execution.

Eminent improvisers, alto saxophonist/pocket trumpeter Joe McPhee and drummer Michael Zerang lay out an impressionistic series of abstracts, underscored by a New Orleans vibe on this session recorded live in the Crescent City at Big Top.  They navigate through seedy streets, yet exude hope and a variety of emotive characteristics while sustaining a great deal of interest throughout.  Passionate, significantly creative and synergistic, the duo launches the festivities with the 24-minute piece "Congo Square Dances/Saints and Sinners."

Clarinetist John Carter and trumpeter/cornetist Bobby Bradford aligned forces in 1965 and eventually helped flip the West Coast USA jazz scene on its side, although widespread recognition was fleeting. Bradford still remains a vital exponent of progressive-jazz amid numerous session dates and co-led efforts for various record labels. Carter passed away in1991 and released several landmark recordings for Swiss-based Hat Hut Records, Gramavision and others. He wowed the critics via his Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music series (1982-1990), providing a visionary musical account of America's roots, owing to the blues and African-American culture.

Acclaimed pianist Luis Perdomo benefits from a dream rhythm section that exercises sympathetic support on this rather zealous trio date.   He's a first-rate improviser, and there's no mystery as to why he's an in-demand session artist.   On this album, Perdomo fuses a restless spirit with a highly rhythmic architecture.  His artistry is modeled on power, grace and shifting tides amid a poetry-in-motion gait, encapsulated by sweeping runs and unanticipated time changes.  Here, the band locks in and punches out a series of sizzling movements, contrasting the temperate subtleties.

Finnish pianist/composer Heikki Sarmanto is a legendary figure within Scandinavian progressive-jazz circles. And this 1972 big band reissue also restates his hip-ness and forward-looking proclivities amid his productions for stage and cinema. Among many rewarding factors, "Everything Is It" has not lost any steam over the years, and is an adventurous undertaking that forges a progressive slant, but incorporates the snazzy, pop shaded big band arrangements of the era.

Guitar master Bill Frisell's global approach includes progressive-jazz, jazz-rock, chamber-jazz, and Americana as the list goes on. But what separates him from others is his signature voice. Otherwise, a biopic account of his rise to prominence exceeds the boundaries of this article. However, Frisell's visionary propensities hit another high mark on this album, based on John Lennon's discography.

Tenor saxophonist Tony Jones' affection for vinyl and the warm analog recording processes, led to his decision to release this textural free-form set on an LP with the ability to download MP3 files.  Reared in California, Jones calls New York City home and has recorded and toured with cutting-edge jazz stylists and pop-rock stars.