Noteworthy new music

Ran Blake – All That Is Tied (Tompkins Square): At age 70, Blake has released numerous solo piano albums that, alas, if the world were just, would make him a living legend. An early combiner of jazz and classical styles, Blake has also long brought to his piano solos a sense of cinematic drama, particularly the atmospherics you'd associate with a Hitchcock thriller. This recent solo piano recital offers that intensely dark suspense, leavened with melodic phrases from black gospel and blues, with a hint of Schoenberg. This is intellectually sinewy music from a capacious heart and soul. Grade: B+

Miles Davis – The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions (Prestige): "Legendary"? This was the trumpeter's quintet that just happened to introduce a still-developing saxophonist, John Coltrane. So here was the major jazz legend of the 1950s shining a spotlight on the soon-to-become major legend of the '60s. Taut arrangements of bop, blues, and Tin Pan Alley tunes are collected in a handsome, four-CD box set that includes a disk of previously unreleased recordings slightly rougher than the previously released material. Grade: B+

Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa – Raw Materials (Savoy): These improvised duets for saxophonist Mahanthappa and pianist Iyer reveal a telepathic empathy between two young, southern Asian players who boldly introduce Indian tonal colors into their arabesquelike musings. Best of all, their combined emotional intensity creates a musical lingua franca accessible to listeners not familiar with drone notes or ragas. This is a savory sonic curry seasoned by each player daring the other to reach for the stars. Grade: A

Francisco Mela – Melao (Ayva Music): A young Cuban drummer who has resettled in Boston proves himself to be a master of more – much more – than Latin dance rhythms. With dulcet contributions by guest tenor-saxophonist Joe Lovano, along with a bracing ensemble of up-and-coming young musicians, Mela (above) proves himself an adroit composer of intricate tunes marked by mercurial mood shifts. He also demonstrates a feathery touch on drums. Electronic interludes and vocal choruses of Afro-Cuban sacred chants sweeten a heady synthesis of US and Cuban styles. Grade: A

Andrew Rathbun and George Colligan – Renderings (New Sound): Yet another example of exquisite tightrope-walking in the form of improvisations between a saxophonist and a pianist. The trick, as in the case of the aforementioned Iyer/Mahanthappa duets, involves how these musicians imagine what an actual rhythm section might present as a catalyst for improvisation. Canadian saxophonist Rathbun and American pianist Colligan give themselves the challenge of improvising on themes from Maurice Ravel and the obscure Spanish composer Federico Mompou. The result is that rare jazz disc that can equally delight both classical-music and jazz fans, a joyous meeting of the minds marked by stirring transitions from neo-classical restraint to jazzy daring. Grade: B+

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