A fast-rising modernist, trumpeter John Raymond assembles a solid team of musicians for his sophomore release Foreign Territory. Anchored by the resolute Billy Hart on the drums, bassist Joe Martin (Kurt Rosenwinkel) and the gifted pianist Dan Tepfer (Lee Konitz), Raymond delivers a masterful set of multi-textured songs — they swing obliquely and pull you in with disarming ease.
He calls his approach “a modern reimagining of classic/straight-ahead jazz,” and his ideas tip a hat to Horace Silver (“Rest/Peace”), Irving Berlin (a ruminative “Deeper”) and Lee Konitz (“Adventurous-Lee”). Raymond has a smoothly polished tone — he’s a convincing instrumentalist with a Freddie Hubbard edge combined with the lyricism of Art Farmer. As a composer, his tunes resonate with poetic flourishes and pleasing off-center melodies. The music’s interlocking rhythms are enhanced by the quartet’s improvisational skills, and the abiding trust that Raymond has with his band is evident from the first tune forward (it’s also the title track, the first ever composition that Raymond wrote on his trumpet). Yet, it’s the collective sound that gives the music on Foreign Territory its substance, conjoined with Raymond’s authorial confidence that gives his decisive music a seasoned glow. Produced by John McNeil. (9 tracks; 44 minutes)