Lan Xang

Lan Xang

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Lan Xang sounds like the name of a traditional Chinese artist, but there is no traditional Chinese music on this CD. Nor does the CD feature a musician who is actually named Lan Xang; rather, Lan Xang is the name of an American jazz quartet that includes Dave Binney on alto sax and flute, Donny McCaslin on tenor and soprano sax, Scott Colley on upright bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums and percussion. The music, all of it original, is acoustic post-bop and mildly avant-garde jazz. Lan Xang favors an inside/outside approach (mostly inside), and when the pianoless combo does venture outside, nothing terribly harsh or abrasive occurs. So you won't hear an abundance of atonal screaming à la Charles Gayle or Albert Ayler on this probing, reflective CD, which is fairly cerebral; Lan Xang is the sort of uncompromising group that has to be accepted on its own creative terms. The New York foursome doesn't go out of its way to be accessible, and listeners shouldn't expect immediate gratification or the quick fix. But after several listens, it becomes increasingly clear that, while Lan Xang isn't a masterpiece, it's a solid, enjoyable effort that's worth hearing if you have a taste for the intellectual and the abstract.

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