Erskine Lê Benita

Dream Flight [ACT]
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On this followup to ELB’s 2001 debut, global-polyglot guitarist Nguyên Lê, Algerian acoustic bassist Michel Benita, and veteran jazz drummer/percussionist Peter Erskine push even further into largely improvised territory that is at once fresh and rooted in tradition. It’s jazz, with all the subtle interplay one would expect from players of this caliber—but the music also grooves and even rocks at times—sort of like Weather Report with Jimi Hendrix subbing for Joe Zawinul—especially when guest saxophonist Stéphane Guillaume joins in. In fact, Erskine’s “Song For Jaco” directly references his fellow Weather Reporter’s immortal “Teen Town.” That said, Lê’s playing is far from retro, masterfully morphing between fiery bop- informed lines, Asian tonalities, dreamy atmospherics, ultra-tasteful whammy manipulations, and haunting chord clusters—and his tones are thoroughly sumptuous throughout. This is contemporary jazz and jazz guitar at their very best .
—Barry Cleveland