Cuong Vu Keeps it Close to Home for ‘Change In The Air’

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On Cuong Vu 4Tet’s Change In The Air (RareNoise), its namesake trumpeter ditches electronic effects.

(Photo: Peter Purgar)

Two tracks carry latent Latin rhythms, though they were not intended as nods to any genre. Bergman’s intimate “Must Concentrate” suggests a bossa nova, reinforced by Frisell’s at-first brushed, barely amplified strings and Vu’s passionately elegant solo. A tango lurks beneath the cagey melody of Poor’s “Lately,” which has a yearning folk feel.

But the mood here and elsewhere on the album is less romantic than it is curiously unsettling. Petulia Mattioli’s jacket art—irregularly shaped, unidentified particles floating under a microscopic lens—reinforces the feeling that whatever the “Change In The Air” might be, it probably isn’t good for you.

“Right now, there are so many pockets of hate,” Vu said of the current political climate, which inevitably seeped in to his consideration of the music. “People aren’t really thinking things through.”

So, maybe it’s not such a bad time to be staying home, after all. Though the 4-Tet probably will jump out a few times for live gigs, Vu mostly will be sticking around Seattle—practicing, composing, teaching and bringing up his daughter.

“I want to be a great musician,” he said. “I tell my students, it’s a lifelong process. There’s always something to learn.” DB

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August 2019
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