Noteworthy: reviews of recent jazz CDs

BUNKY GREEN – Another Place (Label Bleu): Memorable jazz has often grown from cross-generational dialogues. And there is an added poignancy to these conversations when the elder – in this case 70-year-old saxophonist Bunky Green – has suffered neglect while his young rhythm section has received just praise. Green sounds like a just-born firebrand on this peerless session of Green originals, crowned by an old standard about potential fame, "It Could Happen to You." His unsettling mix of sweet and sour melodies, lyrical power, and rhythmically jarring dissonance is unforgettable. Grade: A

PAT METHENY & BRAD MEHLDAU: Metheny Mehldau (Nonesuch): The duet format has often stretched Metheny, but nothing prepared me for the sumptuous majesty and beauty of this guitar/piano collaboration, a high-water mark for the young upstart pianist Mehldau, who had the chutzpah to compel Metheny to liberate himself from favorite harmonic formulas. And Metheny cuts Mehldau no slack when he shines with muscular lyricism on acoustic guitar while performing his original composition that should have been this album's title: "Find Me in Your Dreams." Grade: A

ROSWELL RUDD & MARK DRESSER – Airwalkers (Clean Feed): Arguably our greatest living jazz trombonist, Roswell Rudd, an elder statesman of the '60s free- jazz scene, creates a lively exchange with the young bassist Mark Dresser. It's based on an intriguing premise: What happens when a blisteringly eclectic trombonist and dramatically versatile bassist improvise on traditional forms such as the waltz or calypso? The result is a fearless and often giddying adventure into the far reaches of how each instrument can surprisingly sound as they dance about each other gleefully. Grade: B+

STEFON HARRIS – African Tarantella: Dances with Duke (Blue Note). This recording showcases selections from Duke Ellington's impressionistic "suites," arranged by the up-and-coming new vibraphonist Stephon Harris. He is accompanied by a jazzy but regally restrained chamber orchestra. This largely succeeds because vibraphone was that rare instrument Ellington wasn't obsessed with writing for. The vibraphonist's shimmering blue tones creates a dreamy addendum to the Duke's royal legacy. Grade: B

VARIOUS ARTISTS – How Low Can You Go?: Anthology of the String Bass (1925-1941) (Dust-to-Digital): Truth be told, only about half of the music on this three-disc set is strictly jazz. The remainder is jazz-flavored Western swing, blues, and "roots music." Ex-radio DJ Lance Ledbetter compiled these vintage recordings with enormous taste and erudition. The 79 tracks include notable obscurities. Where else can you hear the wacky, Hollywood-goes-Hawaiian band, Andy Iona and His Islanders? This set features every imaginable acoustic bass technique – and mesmerizes even if you never knew that was the compiler's intent. Grade: A–

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