Vu-Tet

Vu-Tet

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Through his brief but substantive career, trumpeter Cuong Vu has established a firm identity as a progressive futurist, steeped in the techno-influenced cum electric contemporary sound forged by Miles Davis. Where others tread the Bitches Brew path Davis pioneered, Vu has made his own stance a relevant new sound, burnished by his own brand of modified and processed waves of sound and punctuated by thoughtful improvisations and melody lines. The Vu-Tet is a quartet, with saxophonist and clarinetist Chris Speed, electric bass guitarist Stomu Takeishi, and drummer Ted Poor. These musicians are well worth mentioning in repeated refrains, for they contribute mightily to the overall sound Vu concocts. Speed works in tandem with the trumpeter in a perfectly balanced partnership, Takeishi is understated yet resolute in his role to punctuate phrases, while Poor is simply a great improvising drummer who listens as intently and intensely as he plays. The result is a true group ethos equally versed in earth tones, sky church, and voodoo ritualism. A late-night drift merging into more animated discourse defines "Solitary Confinement" and Takeishi's soulful bass and reverent organic elements inform "Now I Know," while "Just a Memory" approaches children's song status in a basic, singing, sweet, and beauteous manner. In their most whirring, ethereal attitude, "Intro" sets up a drastic change for the frantic, brittle, gasping neo-bop funk-rock "Accelerated Thoughts," while the jumpy and kinetic "Never, Ever, Ever" extrapolates upon the latter pace. As Poor consistently lays out driving force propulsion, Vu and Speed elongate complex lines that are Zen-like, elaborating on extensions of themselves. Perhaps most out of character, a superimposed New Orleans shuffle by Poor exhibits a quiet diligence during "I Promise," with Vu finally dominant and Speed subservient. This is yet another tremendous effort for Cuong Vu, a distinct, unique stylist and soloist who is rising ever swiftly as one of the very best modern trumpet players on the improvised or jazz music scene.

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