Marc Cary Focus Trio Four Directions AlbumOne of today’s most original and innovative pianists, Marc Cary embraces the whole of jazz history as well as diverse “world” elements. Playing predominantly acoustic piano along with Rhodes and subtle synth touches, Cary shapes intriguing harmonies and captivating melodies over playful, complex grooves. Sameer Gupta shares Cary’s love for Indian classical music. Gupta is a master of drumset and tabla, and his skills cross-pollinate. On the mesmerizing “Todi Blues,” based on a traditional Indian raga, his overdubbed tabla enhances his drumming textures. On kit, he often eschews the typical “lead hand” on the ride or hi-hat, instead creating a tabla-like stream of alternating sounds that include rimclicks, rim taps, and multi-timbre snare hits. And on the hard swing of “Spectrum,” Gupta drives with explosive sonic flurries. Bassists Burniss Travis and Rashaan Carter (who play together on one track) fertilize the organic whole. (Motéma Music)

Jeff Potter