Our reviewers give you the low-down on new and notable recordings

Introducing Nat Adderley Verve

The Gerry Mulligan Quartets in Concert Pablo

Gus Mancuso & Special Friends Fantasy

That adventurous music called jazz has been oddly conservative when it comes to instrumentation. Certain instruments are favored for certain roles, while others, like the double reeds, are almost never used. When it comes to brass, the only instruments commonly utilized for the modern idiom are the trumpet and the slide trombone, though the flugelhorn, French horn, and tuba each have a few advocates. Nat Adderley is among the only hornmen to have bucked the trend that saw the cornet fall out of favor around the time of Louis Armstrong’s switch to the trumpet in the mid-’20s. The slightly smaller cornet has the same range but a slightly darker tone than its brassier cousin, which some traditionalists still prefer. Adderley’s debut was recorded in 1954, with brother Cannonball’s brilliant alto sharing the front line over a spectacular rhythm section of Horace Silver, Paul Chambers, and Roy Haynes. This is one of the earliest true hard-bop records and, though neglected, is every bit the equal of the classics Silver would soon start turning out. One of the few trombonists to prefer working with the valved model is Bob Brookmeyer, who has been very much a presence both as an instrumentalist and arranger since the ’50s. Brookmeyer is an effective and original soloist, and he’s particularly good at the kind of improvised interplay that was a main feature in New Orleans jazz but unusual thereafter until the free jazz era. This interplay was a main attraction of the Gerry Mulligan Quartets of the late ’50s and early ’60s, two of which are captured on the previously unreleased performances heard on In Concert. Fine, swinging stuff here, as well as on the welcome Gus Mancuso reissue. Where the cornet and valve trombone are rare, the baritone horn is almost nonexistent as a solo voice, but Mancuso turns in very convincing work on these sessions. Names like Richie Kamuca, Pete Jolly, and Vince Guaraldi will be familiar to West Coast fans, but the music swings hard enough to satisfy all tastes. –Duck Baker

Various Artists
The Brothers Warner Bros.

The film The Brothers is about four young successful black men who are scared to commit in their relationships. These men are smooth, engaging, and very likable in a way that is rarely seen on the movie screen. The soundtrack suits the men portrayed in the film, featuring mellow hip-hop-induced cuts by Snoop Dogg and Jermaine Durpi along with the silky soul of Maze. Eric Benet opens up the soundtrack with “Love Don’t Love Me,” a syrupy song that nonetheless helps set the tone. “Good Love” by RL, a new and soulful R&B singer, is sure to be played at weddings this summer. The soundtrack features a potpourri of established R&B artists like Eddie Levert Sr. and David Hollister along with newcomers such as Somethin’ for the People and Jaheim. One of the highlights of the album is Maze’s “Teach Each Other,” which features the soulful voice of Frankie Beverly singing about mentoring and coming of age. This soundtrack is a must-buy for people who want to hear an inspiring dose of good R&B. –Lee Hubbard

Standards Thrill Jockey

Due to a schedule packed with extracurricular projects, it has been three years since the last Tortoise full-length, TNT. Each release, beginning with the Chicago quintet’s 1994 debut, has found it moving further from real-time performance in favor of carefully edited studio constructions. Though Standards sports the band’s most sophisticated sonics yet, at its core is a series of live, rhythm-heavy group performances. The group revisits Brian Eno circa 1975 on “Benway,” produces minimal, Morricone-esque noir on “Firefly,” and sounds most like its old self on the shimmering vibes and tick-tocking marimba of “Six Pack.” While these are paths Tortoise has traveled before, the loose ends of the two-part “Eden” may represent future points of departure; melodically quirky and structurally ambiguous, they serve as examples of the extraordinary landscapes the band can inhabit through their unique fusion. Not quite jazz or funk, not exactly rock or electronica, containing elements of dub and the experimental, Standards is an exercise in post-categorization whose only appropriate label is Tortoise. –Nathan Bush

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