COMPOSERS: Cuong Vu
LABELS: Knitting Factory
PERFORMER: CuongVu (t), Stomu Takeishi (b), John Hollenbeck (d), Laurent Brondel (g, lap-steel)
CATALOGUE NO: KFW-298
With its concentration on brooding atmosphere and extraordinary textural variety – not to mention its innovative use of a plethora of electronic sounds – trumpeter Cuong Vu’s latest trio outing provides the perfect riposte to those who claim that everything interesting in contemporary jazz is occurring outside the music’s birthplace, America.
European musicians’ penchant for utilising the distinctive sounds and traditions of their respective countries as grist for their artistic mills is often justly cited as the main reason for their jazz’s current individuality and vibrancy; Cuong Vu, like many of the so-called ‘Downtown’ musicians with whom he cut his musical teeth — Bobby Previte, Bill Frisell et al— has proved himself equally responsive, on a string of superb recent albums, to American music — from Charles Ives and George Russell to the grunge music of Seattle, the town to which he emigrated from his native Vietnam at the age of six.
Typically on Come Play with Me, Cuong Vu’s keening, almost vibrato-less trumpet states a plangent, emotive melody that gives rise either to free-ish trio interplay embellished with electronic sounds or to slow-building, hypnotic, rocky free-for-alls anchored by John Hollenbeck’s unfussy drums and Stomu Takeishi’s alternately wailing and stuttering electric bass; but whatever they’re playing, soft shuffles or strident anthems, the trio produces utterly distinctive, memorable music that deserves to be widely heard. Chris Parker