A hot organ intro accompanies the simple, fifty-two second, folk-dance breeze of “Folks Jam” before sweeping you into the grander, ballroom dance that is “V for Vena.” It’s an alluring intro to trumpeter/flugelhornist Rachel Therrien’s fifth album as a leader.
You quickly hear the beauty of Therrien’s playing: there’s no need to nerdily testify which horn she’s playing on any given solo (even if you could spot the difference). Just gasp and when she’s done soaring or imploring, move on to the next tune. There’s something waiting for you there too, because her European Quartet of pianist Daniel Gassin, drummer Mareike Wiening and cameo saxophonist Irving Acao make it so.
Dances that are equal parts hypnotic gambol and anxious interplay (played with Cuban resonances) are the highlights of Vena. Among them the driving pull of “Assata” and the lush and expansive solo on “V for Vena.” “Pigalle” is a kick-in-time turn with bassist Guiebert. “Women” is a duet of wit with Wiening. “Emilio” is a lovely ballad.
As the title track dissolves into the glistening, dream-bop of “Parity,” Therrien displays an unerring knack for restraint and for players who put their soul into the music. Any of the fifteen shape-shift-on-a-whim compositions could have become something else and gone another way. But they didn’t. And that’s why Vena is what it is: a disc you should be listening to.