Trumpeter/composer Steven Bernstein's Diaspora Hollywood brings a Jewish tinge into a bluesy American jazz feeling; this mournful after-hours set brings some past sounds to mind while simultaneously pushing the vision forward.
The ensemble features an unusual front line of the leader's trumpet with Pablo Calocero's baritone saxophone, bass clarinet and flutes, along with D.J. Bonebrake's vibraphone shimmerings, adding the occasional pop of bongos from Danny Frankel to add another touch of the odd and exotic.
Past sounds that the disc brings to mind: Eric Dolphy's musings; Miles Davis's Blue Moods (Debut, '55), with Charles Mingus; Herbie Mann's Great Ideas of Western Mann , (Riverside, '57), on which the flute master plays bass clarinet; and Miles' atmospheric Asenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Fontana, '58), fittingly, since this somewhat obscure Davis disc was a soundtrack, and Diaspora Hollywood was inpired by Bernstein's interest in the first generations of American film composers.
Impressive in its continuity of moodhaunting atmospherics brightened a bit by the vibraphone glow Diaspora Hollywood features four Bernstein originals alongside seven traditional compositions laid down in a fresh mode. An oddly entrancing sound, the baritone sax/bass clarinet/trumpet/vibes are arranged perfectly, a hypnotic flow of sound on one of those rare discs that pulls you into its world. A smoky, glinting jewel of a set that makes me want to check the trumpeter's previous Diaspora discs Diaspora Soul and Diasora Blues (Tzadik, '99 & '02) and his Sex Mob band.