|Cuong Vu's borderless approach to sound manifests nicely in Vu-Tet, his second recording for ArtistShare.
The core of Cuong's seven larger-than-life compositions is energized by his improvising quartet members saxophonist Chris Speed, the supportive/interactive drummer Ted Poor, and the free rock bassist, Stomu Takeishi.
Track one, "intro", sounds like an enveloping New Music wind squall, while "never, ever, ever", with its rhythmic boppish theme, quickly turns into tenor multi-tones and sliding smears and puckers from Cuong's looped trumpet. Notice that Cuong's masterful looping serves the music; it allows him to layer his compositions and expand his trumpet's expressive range.
Also notice that Cuong's music can be unabashedly lyrical. In the medium slow "just a memory", and in the heart-felt "now i know (for vina)", both tunes truly cry out for lyrics.
Meanwhile, throughout these large acoustic-electric atmospheres, Vu's trumpet playing with or without looping remains solidly authoritative and searching.
In an interesting quote from the Urban Ambience Journal, Cuong has been described as "an important, intelligent, esoteric voice that will not be silenced by so-called purists or defenders of the status quo".
Well, if Cuong Vu's music really is an esoteric taste, it makes considerable sense that he's recorded again with the fan-driven label, ArtistShare.
At ArtistShare, the CDs are funded by the artist's fans; in fact, musician/fan interaction is the basis of ArtistShare where fans are actively encouraged to contribute to different parts of the creative process. They can submit artwork for the cover of a fall 2008 Jim Hall/Bill Frisell CD, or be selected to play on Patrick Williams' new CD, or have a song written just for them by singer/songwriter, Toronto-based Kate Schutt.
I found out about these interesting CD projects from a recently received sampler CD, ArtistShare Q2 2008. It offers a sampling of eight separate tracks from the above-mentioned Jim Hall-Bill Frisell and Kate Schutt, to Danilo Perez, Kevin Hays, Edward Simon and Leonardo Granados, Joel Miller, and Jon Gordon. (Some jazz improvisors who've already released fan-funded and affiliated albums through ArtistShare are Chris Potter, Bob Brookmeyer, Eddie Palmieri, Billy Childs, Jane Ira Bloom, and Maria Schneider.)
For more information about ArtistShare and its interactive musican/fan projects, visit www.artistshare.net.
by David Fujino July 2008