Lina Allemano Four

Vegetables
(Lumo Records 2021-11)

Since countless phrases like “meat and potatoes” or “the meat of the matter” confirm our culture’s tendency to view animal products as signifiers of seriousness, it seems downright nervy to call an album Vegetables. But Lina Allemano is a player with nerve to spare, and the name she’s assigned to the latest album by her long-running quartet shows that she is ready to take on the challenge of proving that vegetables aren’t just good for you; when the preparation is skilled and the ingredients fresh, nothing is more tasty.

Allemano brings plenty of experience as a composer, improviser and trumpeter. Operating from bases in Toronto and Berlin, she’s been making records since the late 1990s, playing straightahead and free-jazz as well as electronically enhanced experimentalism. The quartet that appears on Vegetables first recorded in 2005, and a decade-and-a-half of playing together has sharpened their reflexive responses to each other, as well as their ability to negotiate Allemano’s challenging compositions.

The structural shifts come so fast on “Onions” that you’ll miss one if you check your watch, but the ensemble executes them with verve and precision, and they stay similarly synced-up framing Allemano’s growling leads on “Beans” with deconstructed acoustic funk. “Brussel Sprouts, Maybe Cabbage” alternates between bold unisons and passages where each individual part feels fractured, but they fit together like a precision-tooled machine.

Each musician brings restraint as well as boldness to these performances, and the result is music that reveals new intricacies with each listen.