'Time Travel' shows Douglas' mastery of his horn
Dave Douglas Quintet (Greenleaf Music)
Trumpeter Dave Douglas has been celebrating “Time Travel” in more ways than just this album. He is on the road to mark his 50th birthday, time that shows steady growth as well as age. Douglas' music always is delightfully hard to define, roaming on this album from a post-hard-bop “Bridge to Nowhere” to “Law of Historical Memory,” which could be the slow movement of a symphony as played by a quintet. Then there is “The Pigeon and the Pie,” which is hard to put in a category, but is enjoyable and accessible. The album is vastly different from his last, “Be Still,” the gentle look at hymns. It is highlighted by several elements. First, his tone never fades from its strength and fullness. He has range that he uses appropriately, making him a master of the horn rather than simply a showoff. Also standing out on the album are saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who gives a great voice to the ensemble play, and bassist Linda Oh. It is available April 9.
— Bob Karlovits
Michael Gallant Trio (Gallant Music)
‘Wolff & Clarke Expedition'
Michael Wolff and Mike Clark (Random Act)
Piano trios do not have to be dull. Keyboardists Michael Gallant and Michael Wolff make that point on “Completely” and ”Wolff and Clark Expedition,” respectively. Both have hard-working trios that stay far away from the lobby-music drone of many piano threesomes. With bassist Linda Oh and drummer Chris Infusino, Gallant churns out songs that range from a rhythm-and-blues flavored “The Real Maria” to a gentle-but-not-milquetoast “Lightbulb.” Bassist Oh also stands out on the recording, playing mostly on electric, but adding a good touch to the laid-back “Candlelight.” Wolff and Clark, accompanied by bassist Chip Jackson put together a good effort. They offer convincing renditions of the Beatles' “Come Together” and Joe Zawinul's “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” But Nat Adderley's “Hummin'” and Wolff's “ARP” and “Flat Out” are the standouts. It is not Wolff at his finest, but he never disappoints.
— Bob Karlovits
The Band Perry (Republic Nashville)
The Band Perry isn't the same sweet gang who fretted about “If I Die Young” anymore. It's issuing murderous threats like “Better Dig Two” now. Not only does The Band Perry — singer-guitarist Kimberly Perry and her brothers bassist Reid and drummer Neil — sound more confident and accomplished on its sophomore album, “Pioneer,” the group backs it up with stronger hooks and better lyrics. Using “Better Dig Two” to launch “Pioneer” was a gamble, but it's paid off, topping the country charts with an angry defense of marriage vows, where Kimberly promises, “I'll go to heaven or I'll go to hell before I'll see you with someone else.” And the “Pioneer” songs only get easier to sell after that, especially the title track, which compares a touring musician's traveling life to that of the early pioneers. In case all those musical adventures don't make it clear enough, The Band Perry is out to stretch the boundaries of today's country music by injecting it with literary references and rock-and-pop influences.
New Kids on the Block (The Block)
Since reuniting in 2008, New Kids on the Block has proved to be among the savviest pop acts around. With its new album “10,” the quintet's winning streak continues, effortlessly plugging into pop's current styles without losing its own trademark harmonies and vocal styles. While the lyrics of “Remix (I Like The)” are a bit on the cutesy side, the slick, slightly-retro production and the catchy chorus are right on target. “The Whisper” is even better, an inspirational dance anthem in the style of David Guetta's work with Usher and Sia. Yes, yes, they're still hangin' tough.