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Violinist Sana Nagano made a magnificent debut with last year’s strange, eclectic and excellent Smashing Humans, a fusion album for jazz fans who don’t like fusion. For Anime Mundi, she strips her support down to a trio, but without stinting on the space-filling sound she essayed last time. Along with veterans Karl Berger (piano and vibraphone) and Medeski Martin & Wood’s Billy Martin (drums), Nagano improvises a set of tunes that once again combine her influences – fusion, hard bop, free jazz, prog rock – into a weird and compelling blend all her own. Nagano and Berger make a remarkable team, swirling around a melodic line they each hear in their heads, sometimes locking horns, other moments respecting each other’s space – it’s a bravura performance. Martin keeps the fires burning, eschewing his trademark groove for a loose, aggressive performance that reveals new facets to his playing. Songs like “Planet Kintsugi” and the epic “Apocalypse” burn through the atmosphere like runaway comets. But firepower isn’t all this combo has, as shown by the quieter, more thoughtful “Tears” and “Siamese World.” The appropriately titled “Zoomies” splits the difference, going from chaotic to contemplative and back. Anime Mundi is another triumph for a young musician coming into her power.
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