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Dave Holland Big Band
What Goes Around
Dave Holland remains better known in some quarters for having played alongside Miles Davis than for releasing solid solo albums for over three decades. What Goes Around shows what many people are missing, demonstrating again Holland's gifts as a bandleader -- in this case, a big-band leader. Most of these compositions have appeared on previous Holland albums, but this time around, he reconceptualizes them with the help of a sprawling ensemble keyed by trombonist Robin Eubanks. Given the size of Holland's team, the tunes might seem in danger of buckling under the weight, but "Triple Dance" and the rest hold up quite well, and the music is powerful without seeming ponderous. It's another triumph in a career full of them. -- Roberts

Norah Jones
Come Away With Me
(Blue Note)
Arguably this year's most astounding vocalist -- and certainly its most celebrated -- Jones entrances listeners with a voice that's been described as a mix of smoke and honey. Her jazz-pop cut "Don't Know Why" has garnered regular rotation on major radio stations, though the album, which has been a top seller, is thankfully far deeper than its lead cut. Jones, on vocals and keys, blends her creations with material by Hank Williams, Hoagy Carmichael and originals by bandmembers Jesse Harris and Lee Alexander. -- Hutchinson

Arto Lindsay
(Righteous Babe)
Former DNA guitarist Arto Lindsay might be growing less experimental with age, but his curiosity has never waned. On Invoke, he shows us what he's learned about Brazilian pop and, typically, colors it with his own delightful penchant for odd rhythmic patterns, hypnotizing loops and other atmospheric elements. Though not nearly as mind-bending or progressive as Mundo Civilizado, Lindsay's breakthrough amalgam of techno and worldbeat, Invoke is nonetheless likely to evoke something in you. -- Bond

Mat Maneri Quartet
(Thirsty Ear)
As a moniker for this album, Sustain works on several levels, including the purely descriptive. "Alone (Origin)," the first offering, begins with plaintive, unadorned notes drawn from Maneri's violin that slowly lure the listener into "In Peace," an expressionistic soundscape featuring some of the jazz world's foremost colorists, including saxophonist Joe McPhee, bassist William Parker, drummer Gerald Cleaver and others. Upon first listen, these compositions seem formless, but subsequent spins expose hidden structures that owe more to musical intuition than to rigorous planning. Maneri and artistic director Matthew Shipp know better than to rush this process. Instead, they allow the music to develop at its own, unhurried pace and are rewarded for their patience with songs that are organic and magical. -- Roberts

Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Un Gran Día en el Barrio
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra does for Puerto Ricans what the Buena Vista Social Club did for Cubans. The all-star group, led by renowned keyboardist/arranger Oscar Hernandez, gets some respect, Nuyorican style, for the homegrown salsa music style it helped popularize. Composed of players who've put in work for Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades, this fiery ensemble faithfully traces the evolution of salsa through smoky devotionals like Pedro Flores's 1947 hit "Obsesión" to Willie Colon and Hector LaVoes's incendiary '70s classic "La Banda." The horns, keyboards and percussive beats will lead you to sing along: "Mi voz es la mensajara de la música latina (My voice is the messenger of Latin music)." ­ Mayo


Gogol Bordello
Multi Kontra Culti VS. Irony
According to certain Eastern Bloc legends, the best violins come from trees that have been struck by lightning. With an electrifying, multicultural giddiness, Gogol Bordello not only lassos lightning on its second album, but learns how to juggle it with gypsy, rai, flamenco, art-rock, punk, humor and debauchery, too. Dubbed "immi-core" by Ukrainian frontman Eugene Hütz, this infectious brand of outsider music ignores borders -- musical and otherwise -- and turns searching for the New World into an untamed Brechtian cabaret. -- La Briola

Many entertainers enjoy a variety of musical styles, but the majority dip into only a few in their own work. Not so Keigo Oyamada, aka Cornelius, who sees no reason to put a fence around his eclecticism. Point isn't quite as scattershot as its ecstatic predecessor, 1998's Fantasma, which seemed to suffer from an exceptionally tuneful variation of attention deficit disorder, but that's only because Cornelius's myriad influences are more seamlessly integrated this time around. "Point of View Point," an instinctive merging of pop and lounge, and "Drop," a song whose liquid grooves are supplemented with samples of actual liquid, are chirpy, chipper and entirely irresistible. In the case of Cornelius's music, more is more. -- Roberts

In Our Gun
After the druggy hybridity of its first two records, Gomez's third official album is everything it should be: mysterious, exciting, hinting at new directions, and plain old fun. All of the links in this thirteen-song chain are equally strong, due in no small part to Gomez's extensive dabbling. In Our Gun is a provocative mishmash of looped, rootsy harmonica lines that morph into pseudo-electronica, watery vocal effects and lovely harmonic bridges. With little downtime, Gomez doesn't let up on its listeners much this time out -- thank goodness. -- Melanie Haupt

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