How do you tell when a show's really good? Even the drum solo works.
Bad drummer jokes aside, tonight's Sten Sandell show with guest John Butcher was really first rate: one long, textured piece that climaxed with a rumbling solo by Paal Nilssen-Love, and a shorter one that was equally interesting.
That was the opener for an explosive set by Cuong Vu's regular trio. Vu had originally planned to split his set between songs from his last album, It's Mostly Residual, and a couple of new pieces he's about to record in Mexico City, but after the first of the two new ones he apologized that he was "out of gas" because of a lack of recent practice. A refreshing admission when he might just as easily faked his way through it.