Keith Yuan


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The small English label Leo Records has recorded some of the finest avant-garde jazz, including performers such as Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton. Its sister label, Leo Lab, focuses on unsung talent, names that are new even to those who closely follow the world of free music. Thankfully, Leo Lab has documented this important set from electric guitarist Keith Yaun, who leads his quintet of violinist Mat Maneri, tenor saxophonist Nathan Cook, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Johnny McLellan in very unconventional directions. Largely falling in the shadows of Joe Maneri's lazily toned-down contra-style, the guitarist waltzes his men through six seductively offbeat showpieces, including a twelve-tone delight. Lest the listener think these fellows can't burn, two short incendiary slices are added to the mix. Yaun relishes sublety, while Maneri shows why he is in such demand as an original voice. Cook and Lockwood contribute effective solos and group interplay.

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