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Album Review

A good seven years after their first recorded foray into the trio format, guitarist Nguyên Lê, drummer Peter Erskine (of Weather Report fame), and bassist Michel Benita recombine for another session. The sound actually does hold some parallels to the Weather Report aesthetic, perhaps due to the involvement of Erskine's pen in a chunk of the tracks. The performances are exploratory, but controlled. With guest sax player Stéphane Guillaume in tow, the album opens with the title track, showcasing the flow of some parallel lines among the leads before going into a wide-open guitar solo. Another piece penned by Benita, "Rotha & Priska," moves into more chaotic territory, with the band clashing sounds together a bit in a bout of deconstruction. Lê's "Jive Five" gets a little more of a groove building, and Erskine's "Song for Jaco" proves a bit more reflective. With "Twelve," the band starts ramping back up slowly (and gives Benita a nice solo), and "Plan 9" brings back Guillaume for a nice bop-inflected bit. Lê takes a nice turn toward the rock end of the spectrum in "Kokopanitsa," with some strong note-bending and scale-burning throughout, and then toward a more ethereal sound in "Romanichel." Benita takes the focus back in "Montreal" with a strong bassline, and the sole Guillaume composition proves itself a loping, funky number. The album closes on one last Lê composition, featuring a fairly sparse interplay between the core trio members. The album has a lot to show, ranging from strong fusion pieces to slow electric nightclub ballads. There's always a touch of fusion inherent in the focus on the electric guitar, but the compositions could often be part of a free jazz or even post-bop setting. Worth a spin for a look at what's going on in the collaborative hotbeds of Paris.

Dream Flight, Michel Benita
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