2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Us3’s multi-million selling debut album “Hand On The Torch”. In honour of that, the new Us3 album “The Third Way (Hand On The Torch Vol II)” marks a return to the classic Us3 sound, with 5 of the 14 tracks containing interpolations of a number of well-known jazz standards, including Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca”, Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”, and Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder”.
MC duties are taken by 3 former Us3 collaborators; Akil Dasan (“Schizophonic” & “Say What!?”), KCB (“Broadway & 52nd”), and Tukka (“Hand On The Torch”). A video for the lead track “Never Go Back” can be seen on the Us3videos channel on YouTube (from September 16th).
Mulgrew Miller, a talented McCoy Tyner-influenced pianist, leads an all-star septet on much of this date. The main stars, however, are Miller's nine diverse originals which range from modal to Monkish. With tenor-saxophonist Joe Henderson appearing on five selections, trumpeter Eddie Henderson on six and altoist Kenny Garrett heard throughout the full CD, Miller has a perfect frontline to interpret his tricky but logical originals.
As one-third of the composer-collective Bang on a Can, David Lang is something of a genial father figure of the indie-classical scene. Talk to any of the world's main players and you're likely to hear them tell you about their life-changing stint in Bang on a Can's summer festival, which has acted as a sort of feeder school and incubator for the group's try-anything mentality. Lang's music has undergone many stylistic shifts over the years: In the 80s, he wrote bristlier stuff, but in the last decade or so, he's shifted quietly into a more pensive register. The Little Match Girl Passion, his 2008 work that won him a Pulitzer, was written for only four voices and some hand bells. This Was Written By Hand, his most recent recording, is a collection of short solo piano works played by the British pianist Andrew Zolinsky. The album holds the same, sustained melancholy mood: thoughtful, searching, elegiac, minimalist. Lang's way with repetitive phrasing doesn't feel like that of minimalists like Glass or Reich's, though.