by Rachel Swan
Known for working with heavyweights like Betty Carter, Roy Hargrove, and Stefon Harris, New York City's Marc Cary recently released one of the cleanest jazz albums of the year. Dubbed Focus, in honor of the pianist's new Focus Trio (indeed, this artist has a penchant for titling his albums with simple directives. His 1998 debut bore the title Listen), Cary's latest features David Ewell on bass and Sameer Gupta on drums and tablas. Though fairly accessible for the medium he's working in, Cary's style is by no means linear or old-guard. He blends ballad-style comping with Indian percussion on "Self Preservation," employs weird time signatures on "Gentle Wind," and uses classical chord changes on "Voyage to the Inside," which quotes Erik Satie and could almost be background music for a stagecoach rolling in after dark. The resulting blend of styles, forms, and traditions makes Focus one of the more imaginative and worldly jazz albums of 2006, though it retains a solid narrative arc, just as the name implies. Click here to hear Marc Cary streaming live.