Jason Anick & Jason Yeager

United
(Inner Circle Music)

These two lifelong friends—and now Berklee College of Music faculty colleagues—challenge and complement each other throughout these 10 tracks. Their music appeals as much to the mind as the spirit,
not because it’s impossibly intricate (it isn’t) but because it avoids excess. Both Jasons and their guests improvise eloquently, but it’s the content of their inventions, not any showiness or exploitation of clichés, that moves the listener.

“Well Red,” for example, opens with a plucked string motif in 7/8, which unfolds through several composed passages into a “blowing session” of sorts. With drummer Mike Connors left free to nudge things along, trumpeter Jason Palmer stretches out with an understated, but wonderfully constructed solo.

They approach simpler settings with intelligence and understatement. If one must point to a single track as the nest among United’s many gems, that might be “Sweet Pea.” Written as a tribute to Billy Strayhorn, it begins with Yeager alone, making the intention of his tune clear with delicate, arpeggiated chords played in a sighing rubato.