Michael Mantler: Coda (ECM 2697)

Michael Mantler

Recorded September 2019
at Porgy & Bess Studio, Vienna, Austria
Engineers: Martin Vetters and Juan José Carpio del Rio
Additional recording, mixing, and mastering
November 2019 and June 2020
at Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineers: Gérard de Haro and Nicolas Baillard
Design: Sascha Kleis
Produced by Michael Mantler
An ECM Production
in collaboration with Porgy & Bess
Release date: July 16, 2021

Coda: a concluding statement, based on elaborations of thematic material from selected past works. So does the booklet for this album of Austrian trumpeter and composer Michael Mantler’s Orchestral Suites define its collective title. In that sense, we might point to its reworking of material from his substantial corpus, including elements of 13 3/4AlienFolly Seeing All ThisCerco Un Paese InnocenteHide and Seek, and For Two. Beyond that, it is an inclusive force that attaches its tendrils to outside influences, carved as much on the surface of the present as of the past. Using his favorite ensemble format of flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, guitar, piano, marimba/vibraphone, and a string section (here under the direction of Christoph Cech), he walks self-referencing as a path to evolution.

While Mantler’s music has deeply cinematic skin (going back at least to 1978’s Movies), there’s no denying a dramaturgical heartbeat within. This isn’t just recycling; it’s a psychological reforming of the self. A frenetic yet never overbearing energy pulls a punch in the TwoThirteen Suite. The electric guitar of Bjarne Roupé rises from the strings as a phoenix, while pianist David Helbock stirs the ashes left behind. In the wake of this tempered triumph, the Folly Suite interrupts in mid-sentence, opening into a quieter realm where the trumpet emotes from the ledge of a skyscraper, tracking as many bodies as it can on the streets below until it loses count. Effortlessly gliding from one part of the city to another until only memories of gridlines are left, Mantler is the itinerant planner whose leaves his messages like tickets on the windows of every illegally parked car as a reminder of acoustic order in a digital world. The Alien Suite leaves such quotidian concerns far behind as Roupé and Mantler go extraterrestrial. The flute of Leo Eibensteiner adds a touch of unexamined landscapes over tense strings. The overarching sense is that of an oncoming storm that never arrives.

If the piano in the Cerco Suite is a pile of bones, then the orchestra is the archaeological team putting it back together. The excitement of this discovery veers into a cavern where the oboe of Peter Tavernaro speaks of civilizations drawn into ruin. Whatever voices we might have recovered there are subsumed into the HideSeek Suite. What were once lyrics now become impulses—the physical sensations of the breaths that produced them. As winds and piano hover beneath the heat of the electric guitar, a mature control of tension and release treats the explosive reveals of life as a matter of course.

Mantler has always had a gift for turning melodies into full bodies. More than signatures or calling cards, they hold themselves together in spite of staggered surroundings. Such is the theme of these compressed realities, each a doorway leading to another.

Steve Tibbetts: Hellbound Train (ECM 2656/57)

Steve Tibbetts
Hellbound Train

Steve Tibbetts guitars, kalimba, percussion
Marc Anderson congas, percussion, gongs
Jim Anton bass (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9)
Eric Anderson bass (1, 8, 9)
Bob Hughes bass (10, 11)
Mike Olson synthesizer (7)
Marcus Wise tabla (8, 10)
Claudia Schmidt voice (1, 9)
Rhea Valentine voice (1)
Steve Tibbetts guitars, dobro, piano, kalimba
Marc Anderson congas, percussion, steel drum, gongs, handpan
Michelle Kinney cello, drones (9, 10, 11, 16)
Bob Hughes bass (15)
Tim Weinhold vase, bongos (15)
Marcus Wise tabla (3)
Recorded 1981-2017
Mastered by Greg Reierson
at Rare Form Mastering, Minneapolis
Cover photo: Lucas Foglia
Album produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: July 1, 2022

“The Best Steve Could Do” is how Steve Tibbetts describes Hellbound Train, a sweeping anthology of works drawn from his decades-long trek across internal and external terrains. The Minnesota-based guitarist and composer selected tracks for this double-disc effort in terms of how well their beginnings and endings suggested connections in an emerging (if malleable) whole. Holding it all together is the trust he shares with his musicians, including percussionists Marc Anderson and Tim Weinhold, tabla player Marcus Wise, bassists Jim Anton, Eric Anderson, and Bob Huges, and cellist Michelle Kinney, among others. In sampling his ECM traversal through Northern Song (1982), Safe Journey (1984), Exploded View (1986), Big Map Idea(1989), The Fall Of Us All (1994), A Man About A Horse (2002), Natural Causes (2010), and Life Of (2018), we are privy to an artist whose instruments are as fleshy as his flesh is instrumental.

Disc I begins with light, as such experiences often do: the glow of an ember, the first twinkle at dusk, the glint in a child’s eye. In search of roadside rest, the itinerant Tibbetts coaxes an all-out percussive mantra from the thickets flanking his path. This is the setting of “Full Moon Dogs,” one of four vital organs transplanted from The Fall Of Us All. An electric guitar courses over this landscape with the charge of a meteor shower. As in “Nyemma” (a lunar spotlight on the voice of Claudia Schmidt) and “Roam And Spy,” he makes his choice—and a fire—to settle in for the night. What follows is not a peaceful slumber, though tranquility is never far away, sharing one image after another until a story takes shape.

Five signposts from A Man About A Horse rise like telephone poles against the Milky Way, strung with trajectories of communication to take upon waking. Whether through the clopping rhythms of “Chandoha” or the sputtering lantern light of “Lochana,” a sense of unease builds to the dyad of “Black Temple” and “Burning Temple,” wherein smoke rules the day. In the aftermath of “Glass Everywhere,” hints of violence dissolve into a brief exchange of voices and laughter.

Despite its destructive qualities, fire is a constant companion, fueled at every turn by the gristle of truth. Tibbetts survives by flinging his 12-string bola at the agile game embodied by hands on drums. The sunlight grows stronger in the elastic nostalgia of “Your Cat” (our sole dip into Exploded View), intersecting the ecliptic of “Vision.” The latter encounter foreshadows the standout selections from Safe Journey on Disc II, including the sacred congregation of kalimba, steel drum, and reverberant picking that is “Climbing” and the masterful “Night Again” and “My Last Chance.” With so much scintillation to chew on, it’s a wonder we don’t turn into comets in the process of listening to them. Big Map Idea compels five entries in this sonic diary, including a nod to Jimmy Page (“Black Mountain Side”) and an excerpt from “Mile 234,” an excursion marking time more than distance.

Grander biomes await us in two tracks from Northern Song. Whereas “The Big Wind” is a winged groove, “Aerial View” feels somehow connected to the earth—so much so that their titles could be reversed and still feel accurate. Life Of sends out four of its offspring, reared in the shadows of Natural Causes, of which “Chandogra” is the epitome of renewal. As if first setting out, our feet no longer have callouses, our muscles are strong, and our packs are heavy. We look upon the open road not as a burden but as an invitation. The only answer to our call resounds in the final “Threnody,” a guitar without a need beyond the hymn it holds against the sun as a compass for all who might come after.

An ethereal souvenir from places we will never visit, Hellbound Train struggles against the current of any vocabulary. This is the best can do to tell its story. A must-have for Tibbetts fans and an ideal place to start for those fortunate to hear any of this music for the first time.

Tord Gustavsen Trio: Opening (ECM 2742)

Tord Gustavsen Trio

Tord Gustavsen piano, electronics
Steinar Raknes double bass, electronics
Jarle Vespestad drums
Recorded October 2021
Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Cover photo: Thomas Wunsch
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: April 4, 2022

A new Tord Gustavsen Trio album is cause for quiet celebration. In that regard, ECM’s characteristic five seconds of opening silence feel most appropriate, at once an obstacle to and a cushion for our expectations. With the introduction of new bassist Steinar Raknes, the feeling of revival is palpable.

Melodies are treated as structural suggestions rather than prescriptions, allowing them to travel as a cartographer would, knowing the general layout of the land but never the details until they fall under foot. Being invited along for the journey is an honor I do not take for granted. Neither do these introspective artisans take the creative act for granted, as “The Circle” proves with open arms. It is the embrace of a friend we haven’t seen since the world became socially distanced yet whose presence never left, our ears receiving the kiss of something wondrous. Despite the slight reshuffling of personnel, the communication between Gustavsen and his bandmates is as organic as ever, each signature floating in and out of focus with an overall coherence.

The pianist’s writing is once again the center of this solar system, its light shining brightest on “The Longing.” In only two and a half minutes, this anthemic interlude charts an album’s worth of space and is the epitome of what this trio can accomplish. Other peaks in the proverbial valley include “Shepherd Song” and “Stream,” where soloing is always connected by a wind of regard. Just when it seems Gustavsen might fly off on his own, he reunites with his earthly shadow, never losing sight of home. In the latter tune, I cannot help but feel mourning for the late Harald Johnsen, who once stood where Raknes stands now. Like the Forest Spirit in Princess Mononoke, Raknes leaves slow explosions of floral life, fading as quickly as they blossom. What’s astonishing is how he, Gustavsen, and Vesepstad do all of this in real time, patiently crafting (if not letting themselves be crafted by) a gentle tug of war between echoing and foreshadowing. Such is the progression of life. Raknes must also be commended for bringing electronic enhancements to “Helensburgh Tango” and “Ritual,” in which his bow evokes the guitar of Terje Rypdal à la The Sea (in that same vein, Vespestad’s rolling snare and cymbals nod deeply to Jon Christensen). What sounds more aggressive on the surface, however, bleeds internally with humility.

A few improvised pieces keep us centered while revealing older inspirations and traditions. From the initial examinations of “Findings,” for instance, emerges the Swedish folk song “Visa från Rättvik,” while the album’s title track cloaks itself in a Gurdjieff-esque meditation. Both tracks have their counterparts, offering plenty of carpet on which to step, and not a hardwood floor in sight.

The final two tracks are the only ones not written by Gustavsen. Geirr Tveitt’s “Fløytelåt” (The Flute) takes us into a folkish vastness, widening the path for the metaphysical denouement of “Vær sterk, min sjel,” a Norwegian hymn by Egil Hovland. A conservative yet wholly appropriate statement on which to end, it moves in unison of steps. Here, the widest door is opened, even if the musicians feel no obligation to tell us what’s on the other side. That’s for them to know and us to find out.

Andrew Cyrille Quartet: The News (ECM 2681)

Andrew Cyrille Quartet
The News

Andrew Cyrille drums
Bill Frisell guitar
David Virelles piano, synthesizer
Ben Street double bass
Recorded August 2019 at Sound on Sound, New Jersey
Engineer: Rick Kwan
Assistant engineer: Christopher Gold
Mastering: Christoph Stickel
Cover photo: Caterina Di Perri
Produced by Sun Chung
Release date: August 27, 2021

The News convenes drummer Andrew Cyrille, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist David Virelles, and bassist Ben Street. One would never guess the ad hoc nature of the quartet (Virelles was a last-minute substitute for Richard Teitelbaum, who bowed out over illness) in light of the cohesions that abound from note one of “Mountain.” Its compassionate declarations describe a peak of sub-equatorial verdancy. Awaiting us at the top is not snow but a clear and sunlit promontory from which to gaze upon the path we are about to follow in subsequent tracks. This is also the first of three tunes by Frisell, whose “Go Happy Lucky” is rendered as an object of dark fascination in Virelles’s pianism, leaving “Baby” to shine for its continuity. As the epitome of this band’s approach to time and space, it glistens with the purity of a virgin spring.

The title track by Cyrille dates back to the late 1970s and involves a newspaper-covered snare drum with rhizomatic touches from his bandmates. This brilliant turn hints at melody but sidesteps the commonality of expectation for the rewards of each unraveling moment. The bandleader further offers his balladic “With You in Mind,” which opens in spoken word. This sets up a late-night feeling from piano and bass, then shifts into Frisell’s meticulous speech-songs as warm organ undercurrents embody a respiration of the soul. Cyrille and Virelles detach in the improvised “Dance of the Nuances,” a delicate web of communication.

Where the pianist thinks outside the box in his playing, he shows restraint in the original “Incienso.” Along with “Leaving East of Java” (by AACM advocate Adegoke Steve Colson), it paints with flowers. In the latter, Cyrille’s cymbals work itinerant wonders as Street’s bass holds a steady watch in the background.

This production from Sun Chung (who has since left ECM to start Red Hook Records) is a masterclass in how jazz should sound when left to define a space. The recording is shaped by the languages we hear, translated out of—and back into—a universal tongue and the great equalizer of all things: nothing less than music itself.

Enrico Rava: Edizione Speciale (ECM 2672)

Enrico Rava
Edizione Speciale

Enrico Rava flugelhorn
Francesco Bearzatti tenor saxophone
Francesco Diodati guitar
Giovanni Guidi piano
Gabriele Evangelista double bass
Enrico Morello drums
Recorded live August 18, 2019
at Jazz Middelheim, Antwerp
by VRT-Vlaamse Radio en Televisie
Engineers: Peter Préal and Maarten Heynderickx
Mastering: Christoph Stickel
Cover design: Sascha Kleis
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher
Release date: October 29, 2021

Recorded live at Antwerp’s Jazz Middelheim festival in 2019, the aptly named Edizione Speciale brings flugelhorn maestro Enrico Rava to the stage with tenor saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti, guitarist Francesco Diodati, pianist Giovanni Guidi, bassist Gabriele Evangelista, and drummer Enrico Morello. That many of these musicians are Rava’s mentees is obvious given the level of communication achieved in this performance. As Rava notes in the album’s press release, trust is at the core of everything this band does.

Pure excitement ignites the night as “Infant” hits the air. Its maximalism leaps into the listener’s heart, especially through the stellar guitar work and the detail-oriented drumming. Guidi further energizes the congregation while Evangelista gilds the frame with strong patterns of recognition. Bearzatti, too, grabs a prime patch of spotlight to strut his stuff. After only a brief introductory statement, the bandleader recedes to let his entourage do the talking on this 13-minute juggernaut. 

Michel Legrand’s “Once Upon A Summertime” and Rava’s “Theme For Jessica Tatum” make for solid company. Rava opens with the lyricism of classic cinema before Bearzatti paves the way for Guidi’s solo delicacies over a spirited rhythm section that harks to Rava’s second home of South America, where Brazilian vibes seep freshly through the mesh of time. After a round of solos, Bearzatti and Rava trading diary entries along the way, Evangelista puts a finer point on things. 

The sprawling introduction of “Wild Dance” (from Rava’s 2015 record of the same name) leads to Diodati’s surreal monologue, which Rava turns into an intermittent conversation. Electronic abrasions add a new face to this repertoire. After a fearless morph into “The Fearless Five,” of which Evangelista’s bass is the wick to the candle, “Le Solite Cose” finds the horns charging into a sparkling take on “Diva” (also heard on Wild Dance). As Rava re-enters the picture, joy abounds and carries over into the Cuban tune “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás” (previously heard on Guidi’s This Is The Day). This one rolls off the proverbial tongue with ease. Its pianistic undercurrent gives rise to artful rhythming from Morello and an ecstatic round of input. With us as vessels, the music is assured of a home worthy of its robustness and love for life.

John Scofield: s/t (ECM 2727)

John Scofield

John Scofield electric guitar and looper
Recorded August 2021
Top Story Studio, Katonah, NY
Engineer: Tyler McDiarmid
Mastering: Christoph Stickel
Cover photo: Luciano Rossetti
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher
Release date: May 6, 2022

John Scofield’s latest for ECM features a set of solo guitar tunes backed by a looper, which he uses to establish progressions and contexts for his adroit picking. This long-awaited project, one that fans thought might never come, offers plenty of variety to meet that expectation. It all begins with a second-nature take on Keith Jarrett’s “Coral.” Launching into an improvisational spirit from the first breath and shifting into the melody only at the end, this interpretation features all of Scofield’s hallmarks: forthright expression, clear lines, and enough rough edges to guarantee authenticity. This is edible music.

Among all that follows, my ears are drawn immediately to Scofield’s originals. From the finely sculpted “Honest I Do” and the more whimsical “Since You Asked” to the emotionally charged “Mrs. Scofield’s Waltz,” he proves an uncanny ability to unravel moments of life into stories with beginnings, middles, and endings. The bluesy “Elder Dance” is a highlight. Scofield’s description says it all: “I picture older people (like me) doing a kind of lindy hop. I can picture it but I can’t do it.” This and the vibrant “Trance du Jour” make their recorded debut. Both are genuine pleasures to hear.

“It Could Happen to You” is the first among a handful of jazz standards. While recognizable from the start, it adds Scofield’s idiosyncratic touches, by turns fluid and angular. Even “Danny Boy” feels spontaneous in his brilliant hands, while the prison song “Junco Partner” bows its head in honor of the wrongfully incarcerated. Whereas “My Old Flame” and Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” favor message over medium, others, like “There Will Never Be Another You,” add new levels of interest to the tried and true. We end with the Hank Williams classic, “You Win Again,” speaking in the language of experience.

Despite my appreciation for all that transpires here, this isn’t my favorite of ECM’s 2022 releases. Scofield is, of course, a master who could sound like no one but himself. And while I dig the easygoing, unrushed quality of the playing, I find relatively little to chew on in the standards. On the other hand, there’s plenty to enjoy in Scofield’s originals, which gift these ears with fresh, honest sounds. I just wish we’d been given nothing but, especially for a self-titled record from an artist whose contributions to the art of jazz are every bit as flavorful as the old chestnuts he has roasted here. Many will disagree with this assessment, so don’t let me discourage you from enjoying an album that might very well grow more than show.

Matthieu Bordenave: La Traversée (ECM 2683)

Matthieu Bordenave
La traversée

Matthieu Bordenave tenor saxophone
Patrice Moret double bass
Florian Weber piano
Recorded October 2019, Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineer: Gérard de Haro
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Cover photo: Thomas Wunsch
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: September 25, 2020

La traversée offers the ECM leader debut of French tenor saxophonist Matthieu Bordenave, who first appeared thereon as part of Shinya Fukumori’s 2018 masterpiece, For 2 Akis. This time, he is joined by German pianist Florian Weber and Swiss bassist Patrice Moret. Clearly born for the label, onetime host to his hero Jimmy Giuffre’s band with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, he allows those early influences to take residence in current practice, each a shade letting in different amounts of light through the windows of his musical soul. The present trio holds its own in the presence of such expectations, ever open to the possibilities of space and unstructured play. Other influences include classical chamber music, especially of the modern French persuasion (think Messiaen and Dutilleux). Classical training indeed comes to the fore in his technical control while his love of jazz spreads across eight originals in the fashion of a spilled glass of water—inching ever closer to the edge of the table but prevented from falling by delicate surface tension.

When the darkening of “River,” a duet between the bandleader and Weber, makes its gradations known, we find the saxophonist sitting alone in a place of seeming childhood significance. His breathy register is a ghost—not of the past but of the future. At the same time, his sound is antique in that one can taste the patina of his horn. When the character of the bass is introduced in the second scene, “Archipel,” an underlying cinematic implication is consummated. Thus, Bordenave recalls Giuffre but also Charles Lloyd’s muggy charm, cherishing the potential of a dying note as might a sitar virtuoso. All the while, Weber’s forthright pointillism meshes lovingly with Moret’s rounded spacing.

“Le temps divisé” assembles notes as an archaeologist does a skeleton, for great care is required amid the excitement of discovery to fashion a coherent simulacrum of the body it once inhabited. In the wake of that exacting labor, “Dans mon pays” speaks of home as the piano and saxophone nourish each other in the bass’s soil. “The Path” follows with the album’s deepest passage, rewarding the patient listener (like the set as a whole) with moments of sheer lucidity.

Although Bordenave is powerful and direct in his gentility, he understands the preciousness of space. “Ventoux” and “Incendie blanc” are special cases in point. Both are hopeful fascinations, treating yearning as an instructive force. Moret’s bass monologue in the former tune is superb, giving way to galactic light from Weber, whose delicate flames dance across the latter’s terrain. From the ashes of those reactions arises “Chaleur grise,” of which the meticulous fray wavers in reflection. Hence our return to “River,” now in trio form and willingly shed of its skin. A stepwise unison leads to the final note, free yet bound by just enough grit to make the dream feel actual.

La traversée is a diurnal experience, tracking heavenly bodies in a climate all its own. To listen to it is to watch your shadow marking the hours from dawn until dusk.

Oded Tzur: Isabela (ECM 2739)

Oded Tzur

Oded Tzur tenor saxophone
Nitai Hershkotivs piano
Petros Klampanis double bass
Johnathan Blake drums
Recorded September 2021
Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Cover photo: Sebastião Salgado
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: May 13, 2022

Saxophonist and composer Oded Tzur resurfaces in ECM waters for his follow-up to 2020’s Here Be Dragons, a maiden voyage that, like this spiritual twin, was a musical parable. Rejoined by pianist Nitai Hershkovits, bassist Petros Klampanis, and drummer Jonathan Blake, he examines the fluidity of structural principles and the materials involved in their making.

From the threads of “Invocation,” the quartet sews the binding of its thematic pages in “Noam,” which speaks through melodies that roll off the soul’s tongue. In “The Lion Turtle,” Blake taps the edges of his kit like someone testing the shell of an egg for vulnerabilities (and finding none). Klampanis’s solo feels like an extension of Hershkovits’s (and vice versa). Suggestions of alternate realities fade as quickly as they appear. Tzur’s unraveling is profundity incarnate, gracing the inner circle of every chord change as the tongue might move a morsel around the mouth for proper chewing. The result is more than a conversation; it’s an interactive prayer.

The title track awakens suddenly yet quietly. Love is the universal whisper here, as supple as skin. A near-stillness shifts midway into a locomotive dream before allowing the dawn to have its way. “Love Song For The Rainy Season” whips up the most energetic passages of the album, ending it on a cymbal crash that dissipates in breath.

At 36 minutes, Isabela is quintessentially about quality over quantity. The depth of interpretation promised by repeat listening far outweighs the expectation that a mere profession of duration may court from the skeptical heart. Tzur plays as if shielding his eyes from the sun, seeing in the distance a vessel he might have known as a child yet which is now haggard and without a sail, going only where the water and waves will permit it. He swings and whispers, meditates and shouts, holding each dichotomy as a eulogy.

(This review originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of The New York City Jazz Record, a full PDF of which is available here.)

Mark Turner: Return from the Stars (ECM 2684)

Mark Turner
Return from the Stars

Mark Turner tenor saxophone
Jason Palmer trumpet
Joe Martin double bass
Jonathan Pinson drums
Recorded November 2019 at Sear Sound Studio, New York
Engineer: Chris Allen
Mixed September 2021 at Studios La Buissonne
by Manfred Eicher and Gérard de Haro
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Production coordinator: Guido Gorna
Cover photo: Thomas Wunsch
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: March 25, 2022

Admirers who have traced the influences of Mark Turner will know of his interest in science fiction. More than the inspiration for an evocative title or two, the underlying ethos running through his work like dark matter in a timeslip could come from no other genre, articulated as it is in a language that feels as spatial as it does temporal. As Stanisław Lem wrote in Solaris: “We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors.” In the bell of Turner’s tenor saxophone, one indeed finds a mirror for scrutinizing our egos in melodic ways.

Return from the Stars puts Turner back on the ECM map, carrying over bassist Joe Martin from 2013’s Lathe of Heaven and adding drummer Jonathan Pinson and trumpeter Jason Palmer for eight originals. The lack of keyboard allows for two crucial things to happen. First, it opens the ears to Turner’s compositional prowess, graceful yet given to unexpected turns and shades of meaning. Second, it opens space in the recording and exchanges between the musicians. The resulting music, smooth without filling in every gap, invites listeners to ruminate and appreciate the inner workings at hand. Against a rhythm section digging its heels only when needed (and without ever overstating the issue), interplay between horns unfolds organically (Turner is always moving from one terrain to the next while Palmer seems to work his awl into the wood of his thinking, uncovering ever-deeper layers of meaning). Sitting among the evocative gems of “Bridgetown” and “Nigeria II,” tracks like “Terminus” and “Lincoln Heights” walk in places that have been lived in. Throughout, the writing is suggestive rather than declamatory. The titles of “It’s Not Alright With Me” and “Unacceptable” evoke a playful gray area between frustration and freedom from it. The blurring of such dichotomies is a sign of maturity: letting emotions speak for themselves rather than shouting in their place. In “Waste Land,” too, I get the feeling that these pieces are always growing and that we are privy to some of their prime phases.

(This review originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of The New York City Jazz Record, a full PDF of which is available here.)