And while there’s always some narrative implication in the music, it’s never too elusive to grasp. You don’t need a codebook to understand Builders, which begins with scurrying movements and then hunkers down in bombast, with Ingrid Jensen’s echo-processed trumpet crying out as a lone, anguished voice.
Argue, 37, has consistently drawn praise for bringing the established language of big-band writing, especially as exemplified by his former teacher Bob Brookmeyer, into meaningful contact with aspects of postminimalism and indie-rock. There’s more of that here, most strikingly on The Neighborhood, which borrows a strobing piano part, a disco beat and eventually an electric bass line from the LCD Soundsystem song All My Friends. A track called Coney Island incorporates both a minimalist piano repetition, played by Gordon Webster, and a distorted guitar solo, by Sebastian Noelle.
Noelle also plays one of seven roughly minute-long interludes — Interlude (HASHTAG)5 Unmoored, based on a Croatian folk song — alone on acoustic guitar. It leads into Missing Parts, a percussive and pointillist exercise with solos from the trombonist James Hirschfeld and the baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton, as well as Erica von Kleist on piccolo and Nadje Noordhuis on flugelhorn. It’s the album’s most action-packed five minutes, a good distillation of what makes this band, and Argue’s vision, so vital and absorbing. It also restates that opening melody: thematic coherence, at no extra cost.
— NATE CHINEN, NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE