Pat Metheny/Cuong Vu Trio: Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny (Nonesuch)

 |   |  1 min read

Cuong Vu and Pat Metheny: Telescope
Pat Metheny/Cuong Vu Trio: Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny (Nonesuch)

The 46-year old Vietnam-born trumpeter Vu established himelf in the NYC Downtown scene in the Nineties, has recorded for the edgy Knitting Factory label and played with Laurie Anderson, drummer Gerry Hemmingway, Cibo Matto and appeared on the unreleased 2001 David Bowie single Your Turn to Drive (aka Toy, the title track of the 2011 Bowie album and also on the recent Nothing Has Changed collection).

So he's fooled around, as it were, but the man who turned his head was guitarist Metheny.

Vu credits Metheny's '83 live album Travels as pivotal in his decision to embrace jazz . . . and in 2002 recorded with Metheny on the guitarist's Grammy-winning Speaking of Now, then again on his equally acclaimed '05 follow-up The Way Up.

Here Vu's trio (bassist Stomu Takeishi, drummer Ted Poor) pull Metheny onto their orbit however, a trajectory which has most often been spacious, slurrily modal and atmospheric, and certainly out-there.

All those reference points remain intact -- Vu's trumpet elbowing funky Miles Davis influences out of the way to nudge Ornette Coleman's style (which Davis felt insulting to trumpeters) into the cosmos. Poor challenges at every rhythmic twist and turn.

And into the mix comes Metheny's tonal palette of alternating shimmering and staccato runs  (Not Crazy Just Giddying Up), sedate melodicism (the "ballad" Seeds of Doubt which sounds more Pat than Cuong) and Coleman-influenced prog-jazz (Metheny's Telescope).

Both Metheny (who recorded Song X with the late Coleman and cited him as a genius) and Vu understand Ornette's harmolidic theory -- "remove the cast system from sound" -- and here hold fast to that, where all instruments and improvisations -- and bassist Takeishi is herculean here sometimes -- are of equal weight.

This is serious jazz for serious jazz listeners and will challenge casual players in the field.

But if you are serious abut your jazz, then this is serious jazz . . . and sometimes (five minutes into Telescope) a serious challenge.

They let you off the hook if you get to the final piece, the woozily lazy and finger-snap (if you dare try) Tune Blues.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Connie Han: Iron Starlet (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

Connie Han: Iron Starlet (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

Sometimes you just have to put aside preconceptions about how an artist looks – Alice Cooper, Tiny Tim, Frank Zappa from days of yore – and just head straight to the music.... > Read more

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Live (ECM/Ode)

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Live (ECM/Ode)

A previous album by this often melodically minimalist, rhythmically propulsive and effervescent group around keyboard player Bartsch -- Llyria -- was singled out as one the Best of Elsewhere in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Taylor Swift; 1989

THE BARGAIN BUY: Taylor Swift; 1989

When Ryan Adams recorded his own version of this Swift album it got to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't mention Swift's name in civilised company. The shorthand was Adams had credibility,... > Read more

THE STORY OF THE SEMER LABEL (2016): The fall and rise of the house of Hirsch

THE STORY OF THE SEMER LABEL (2016): The fall and rise of the house of Hirsch

Tragically, it seems, the appalling lessons humanity should have learned from the Nazi era have been forgotten – or worse, not even known – by far too many people today. While... > Read more