So many great CDs, so little time and space. Here are one-sentence reviews of ten discs that I’ve been digging, along with links to facilitate further investigation:
Introspective and edgy in turns, DuBois’ imaginative and sometimes enigmatic compositions explore fresh harmonic resonances while at the same time invoking the ghosts of ’60s and ’70s jazz—particularly of the ECM variety—and his guitar playing is deep, nuanced, and thoroughly captivating. Sunnyside.
This two-CD set culls music from the myriad artists and bands that acoustic and electronic drummer Mastelotto has been involved with (sans Mr. Mister and King Crimson), from the progressive rock leanings of Stick Men and Tuner to the ethno-space explorations of Tu and KTU to the smart-pop musings of Steven Wilson and Tovah, all presented in an appealing and deftly sequenced package. (p)atco.
Ghosts of the Sun
The more atmospheric side of guitarist Ben Monder’s playing is emphasized in the music on this exquisite quartet recording by tenor saxophonist McHenry, which also includes masterful drumming by the late Paul Motian. Sunnyside.
Freak Zoid Returns
Fueled by Scott McGill’s high-octane fretted, fretless, and synth guitar playing, this prog-fusion fun ride comprises quirky grooves, crafty tones and effects, and lots of smoking musicianship—including two guest blasts by hyper-bassist Michael Manring. UniBlab.
Live From Earth
This impressionistic and often psychedelic mélange was adroitly assembled from live improvisations by Tim Motzer (baritone guitar, electronics), Doug Herlinger (drums), and Barry Meehan (bass, electronics), who likely weren’t tripping balls during the performances but might as well have been—and I mean that in a good way. 1k.
Doug Lunn Project
Peter Maunu is the principal guitarist (with cameos by Mike Keneally and Dimitris Mahlis) on this mostly dreamy and thoroughly gorgeous ambient-jazz-world-fusion disc by keyboardist, percussionist, and virtuoso bassist Lunn, which also features drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and mallet percussionist George Bernardo. Future Primitive.
The Double-Duo Sessions
Guitarists Wayne Eagles and Ken Rosser team with drummers Ian Froman and T. Bruce Wittet on this collection of three compositions and ten improvisations, ranging from brooding moodscapes to funky electro-skronk to dark semi-prog droning—with skilled, tasteful, and often understated playing throughout. TetraArtist.
Dreams Nightmares and Improvisations
Featuring the immortal Allan Holdsworth on guitar, along with other longtime collaborators bassist Jimmy Johnson and keyboardist Jim Cox, drummer extraordinaire Wackerman has crafted an exceptional jazz-fusion album entirely worthy of the lineup—which in this case is really all that needs to be said. Chad Wackerman.
If you dig classic Pat Metheny and buoyant jazz that is still safely this side of "smooth," you'll find lots to like on this tasty disc, as well as great musicianship from Boswell and a cast of top players that includes soulful bassist Jimmy Haslip and swinging drummer MB Gordy. My Quiet Moon.
Kevin Kastning, Carl Clements
Dreaming As I Knew
The 13 entirely improvised pieces on this sublimely beautiful recording by Kastning (14-string contraguitar, 12-string alto guitar, classical guitar) and Clements (tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, bansuri flute) tap deep wells of subterranean feeling while simultaneously filtering light from the Empyrean. Greydisc.