Geordie McDonald Time/After Time: A Jazz Suite

Effectively negotiating big-band music with avant-garde leanings can be difficult, often leading to cumbersome-sounding results. Luckily, on Geordie McDonald's Time/After Time, the big band contain some of the continent's best improvising musicians. Saxophonist Richard Underhill leads a band of 19, featuring American trombonist Roswell Rudd, in a series of compositions that, like McDonald himself, run the gamut of contemporary music. An appropriately titled electronic piece, "The Big Bang" opens the first disc; groove-based cuts such as "Tribal Survival" include hints of Indian and Arabic music; and "Intense City" is Ascension-like free-jazz, with an inspired solo by baritone saxophonist David Mott. The second disc begins with two full-group improvisations ― the highlight of this record ― displaying the remarkable musicianship possessed by the members; it concludes on a 12-minute display of McDonald's masterful technique and tasteful melodicism on both percussion and drum kit. It's a satisfying dénouement to an album that calls for repeated deep listening. (Sonavista)