Hasselbring, Curtis – “Number Stations” – [Cuneiform Records]
Number stations were radio broadcasts that transmitted spoken or morse code numbers that were considered spy operations during the cold war. This ensemble’s improvisational music echoes their seemingly random but actually coherent messages and makes up track titles based on what their message might be. Trombonist Curtis Hasselbring leads the septet that includes Mary Halvorson (guitar), Trevor Dunn (bass), Matt Moran (vibes and marimba) and Chris Speed (tenor sax and clarinet), drummers Ches Smith and Satoshi Takeishi. Lots of great playing, a few inspired solos, and skillful interaction. Fun and sometimes even funny.