Updates, Not Throwbacks

Gypsies and Jews, Afro-Cubans and avant-gardists, led by two smashing piano players

GONZALO RUBALCABA
Paseo
(Blue Note)

The title translates as "stroll": a leisurely walk through pleasant surroundings, but with a contemplative distance. For Rubalcaba this means back in time to his Cuban roots, and sideways through the maze of modern jazz. With his New Cuban Quartet the dominant voice is saxophonist Luis Felipe Lamoglia, who owes more to Coltrane than to the Caribbean. But the pace and variety come from the rugged Afro-Cuban terrain that keeps the stroll interesting. A MINUS

SEPTETO RODRIGUEZ
Baila! Gitano Baila!
(Tzadik)

Roberto Juan Rodriguez learned klezmer as a Cuban expatriate in Miami, working bar mitzvahs and Yiddish theaters. His synthesis of Jewish melody and Cuban percussion dreams of roots that never were, yet it is convincing enough that one can imagine generations of conversos gathering in private to keep the ancient secrets of their culture alive. This sequel to El Danzon de Moises is less surprising but broader and happier, with touches of tango and gypsy dance. A MINUS

TRIPLEPLAY
Gambit
(Clean Feed)

The delta from Spaceways Inc. to Tripleplay is the replacement of Hamid Drake with Curt Newton, but switching bassist Nate McBride from electric to acoustic shifts the feel from funk to blues. Both moves make the band more intimate, and Ken Vandermark responds with some of his most thoughtful chamber jazz. Even if it was made up on the fly, which it largely was. A MINUS

WARREN VACHÉ
Dream Dancing
(Arbors)

The difference between this and 2Gether, the duo Vaché and Bill Charlap cut for Nagel Heyer in 2000, is the difference between a fine Danish modernist antique and an overstuffed easy chair. With bass and drums, Charlap eases back, and Vaché settles into his comfort zone. Now that he's too old to be called a young fogey anymore, maybe the notion that his genteel swing is retro should also be retired. A MINUS


Additional Consumer News

Honorable Mention

ADAM PIERONCZYK
Amusos
PAO

Free jazz as postmodern cool, an ether of saxes, bass, cello, beats, and voice where all that is solid melts into air.

FIREHOUSE
Live at Glenn Miller Café
Ayler

Jon Lindblom's punk-jazz guitar, with horns piled on because they're loud.

MATS GUSTAFSSON/ SONIC YOUTH
Hidros 3 (to Patti Smith)
Smalltown Supersound

A real-time mix of guitar noise and Mats's bull elephant contrabass sax, with Kim Gordon confessing her lack of fashion sense.

PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE/KEN VANDERMARK
Dual Pleasure 2
Smalltown Supersound

Leftovers from last year's Dual Pleasure—abstract clarinet, avant-honk, drums.

THE THING
Garage
Smalltown Superjazz

Mats Gustafsson's heavier metal power trio undoes your new wave faves, then plays Brötzmann to relax.

JAN GARBAREK
In Praise of Dreams
ECM

Sax with strings, only Garbarek's such an ascetic he allows himself just one viola and a dash of percussion.

PARADIGM SHIFT
Shifting Times
Nagel Heyer

Less a throwback to the organ-guitar soul jazz of the '60s than an update, ready to cross over but not to beg.

SATOKO FUJII TRIO
Illusion Suite
Libra

With Mark Dresser and Jim Black, one long and three short pieces full of texture that escalates into energy.

EDDIE GALE
Afro-Fire
Black Beauty

Black rhythm's still happening, but these days Sun Ra gets filtered through Afrika Bambaataa.

THE GREAT JAZZ TRIO
Someday My Prince Will Come
Eighty-Eights/Columbia

Last chance to hear something new from Elvin Jones.


Duds

HELEN MERRILL
Lilac Wine
Sunnyside

BOB MINTZER BIG BAND
Live at MCG With Special Guest Kurt Elling
MCG Jazz

STEVE SWALLOW/OHAD TALMOR SEXTET
L'Histoire du Clochard: The Bum's Tale
Palmetto

KIM WATERS
In the Name of Love
Shanachie


Dud of the Month

CHICK COREA ELEKTRIC BAND
To the Stars
(Stretch)

The problem with fusion wasn't that good jazz was cheapened by crass rock and roll. The problem was that so many fusioneers were suckers for bad rock. Here Corea reconvenes his 1986-93 Elektric Band to power through a suite of pieces based on the L. Ron Hubbard sci-fi novel, and you can guess the rest: vintage space opera that Pink Floyd or Hawkwind wouldn't have played on acid, soundtrack melodramatics without visual cues, and a fresh coat of Jelly Roll's Famous Latin Tinge. C

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