286

Cuong Vu: Vu-Tet

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Cuong Vu: Vu-Tet On Vu-Tet, his follow-up to It's Mostly Residual (ArtistShare, 2005), trumpeter Cuong Vu continues to mine similar turf, ranging from the deeply lyrical to the aggressively hardcore. But with considerable touring under the belt of his regular working trio, featuring bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Ted Poor—with and without Vu-Tet's guest saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed—there's an emerging group identity as concerned with texture and color as it is playing that is at times delicate and ethereal, elsewhere visceral and fervently propulsive.



With the possible exception of Norway's Nils Petter Molvaer and Arve Henriksen, there's simply no other trumpeter on the radar today as innovative in blending extended technique and electronic processing to expand the possibilities of his instrument. Utilizing both to dramatic effect, Vu turns the opening "Intro" into a sonic tour de force that begins atmospherically but gradually intensifies, with Takeishi creating his own layers of sound and Poor playing orchestrally rather than rhythmically. It's an evocative opener that sets the stage for "Accelerated Thoughts," a high-velocity tune with a knotty theme that breaks down into a staggered rhythm before heading into a grungy solo section for Takeishi, his fretless bass heavily distorted and supported by Poor's relentless backbeat. Vu's virtuosic solo alternates between rapid-fire lines and dissonant screeches, while Speed delivers an equally unfettered tenor solo of considerable abandon.



While there's no shortage of freedom for the group, Vu's writing is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The texture, power and improvisation may suggest otherwise, but the lengthy development of "Solitary Confinement" is unmistakably informed by contemporary classical music, with Vu and Speed's clarinet winding a long unison line in and around Takeishi and Poor's counterpoint. Speed's solo doesn't enter until a third of the way in, with Takeishi and Poor once again turning more angular and assaultive. While the jazz tradition is buried deeply, and despite the atmospheric ambience at the beginning of his solo, there are traces of swing and post bop in Vu's phrasing before everyone heads, once again, for greater extremes.



Despite the idiosyncrasies of compositions like the rhythmically complex but ultimately grooving "Never, Ever, Ever," Vu remains capable of deep lyricism. The balladic "Just a Memory" builds a singable theme over Takeishi's Jaco-like playing and Poor's economical kit, while "Now I Know" is darker but equally melodic, with a collective improvisation around its spare changes made all the more dense through Vu's processed trumpet and Takeishi's thick tone.



While Vu became more visible when he joined the Pat Metheny Group in 2001, his work on the guitarist's more eminently accessible Speaking of Now (Warner Bros., 2002) and ambitious The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005) hasn't compromised his own evolving voice. Instead, Vu-Tet capitalizes on and expands upon the successes of It's Mostly Residual, with even greater compositional depth, textural breadth, improvisational freedom and intimate group interaction.


Track Listing: Intro, Accelerated Thoughts; Solitary Confinement; Just a Memory; Never, Ever, Ever; Now I Know (for Vina); I Promise.

Personnel: Cuong Vu: trumpet; Stomu Takeishi: bass; Ted Poor: drums; Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet.

Title: Vu-Tet | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ArtistShare


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Meeting My Shadow CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read No Secrets No Lies CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read 50 CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Day After Day CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "The Long Road" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Road
by Troy Collins
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Live At The Cota Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Cota Jazz Festival
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Argonautica" CD/LP/Track Review Argonautica
by Troy Collins
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Wanderlust" CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Forgive and Forget" CD/LP/Track Review Forgive and Forget
by Edward Blanco
Published: January 9, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!