Aziza

Named for a mythological woodland creature from guitarist Lionel Loueke’s ancestral homeland, the Dahomey kingdom (now Benin) in Africa, this album features two compositions each from jazz bassist Dave Holland, saxophonist Chris Potter, drummer Eric Harland, and Loueke. “Aziza Dance” opens with Loueke’s synthy-funky guitar and a solid summer-festival-vibe drumbeat. After a six-minute rollick, the guitarist and Potter wrap it up with a stellar unison section. “Summer 15” features Potter’s fleet soprano over an African-tinged polyrhythm. Here, as on most of the songs, Loueke’s facility with guitar effects — such as the series of twangy choral string-bends he fashions in a bridge section in this song — lends an exciting, if fusionistic, quality to the proceedings. “We all share a respect for the tradition but at the same time the drive to try to create something personal and new out of it,” Holland writes in album materials. It is a treat digging into music by one of the best jazz bassists ever, with Holland’s playing on “Walkin’ the Walk” — a tune that’s also a standout for Harland, a magician of scattershot drum work. Potter’s playing on “Summer 15” (when the CD was recorded) is sometimes light and spare, almost celestial; his other composition, “Blue Sufi,” is a showcase for his more recognizably intense work on tenor. Everyone gets extra exuberant on the closer, “Sleepless Night,” on which Loueke adds vocals,with African click consonants. Great album.