Renovation, Minneapolis-based trumpeter Kelly Rossum's second recording as a leader, opens with a Rossum original, "Cheap Cigars," coming to life on a Fender Rhodes chime, repeated like church bells, as an introduction to the leader's muted horn, a sound of yearning in front of the sharp punctuation of a shuffling rhythm. Miles Davis' sound, of the mid-sixties' Miles Smiles time, comes to mind, especially on "Lead Soldiers," which has a melody that gets close to Jimmy Heath's "Ginger Bread Boy," the closer on that particular Davis album.
Rossum's group has developed an assured voice. Both trumpeter Rossum and tenor saxophonist Chris Thomson blow with attitude, a nearly brash self-assurance on the up-tempo tunes, giving the sound an edge and a push forward modernity; while on the ballads—especially Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing"—the feeling is more mainstream. The Hendrix tune opens with a Bill Evans-like piano rumination by Chris Lomheim, floating notes that gel into the melody as the horns blow in for a beautifully introspective eight minutes.
Ornette Coleman's "Bugpowder," at a too-brief minute and a quarter, is a small, intense maelstrom, while Rossum's "Taxi Funeral Waltz" has the horn men blowing free behind a metronomically steady rhythm, before they explore some exquisite saxophone/trumpet interplay on "The Two of Us."
The set walks the line between experimental and mainstream, remaining approachable throughout.