SURE-FOOTED YET stylistically adventurous, Crossing Over is a pleasant surprise for those of us who had pigeonholed Lang through her past work with the Wolverines and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Over the course of 13 tunes, the bass violinist arrays her ambitious compositions and arrangements with a keen sense of pacing that makes the most of the highlights and allows her few failures to come off as noble experiments.
The highlights begin with the second track, "Who Will Buy?" a smooth, lightly boppish groove spiced by Joel Adams's trombone. "Intellect" is an erudite dialogue between Lang's bass and Brad Pregeant's piano, followed by "Selah," a gorgeous solo refrain from Lang that has a burnished, oboe-like resonance. That in turn leads into "Steal Away," a spirited New Orleans-style jam featuring trombone, clarinet, and banjo.
Another delightful trio of tunes begins with pianist Stan Godfriaux's funky take on the gospel standard "Oh Happy Day," followed by the ethereal voicings of "Listen" and the chamber-jazz discipline of violin, cello, and harpsichord on "Theatre Is Empty." The opening "Rivers of Babylon" strains for significance, with Hebrew and Yoruba vocal stylings in a repetitious chant against percussion that ultimately bites off more than it can chew. But again, even such missteps are admirable for their reach. Hers is a talent to watch.
Laurie Lang performs Thursday at the Artists' Quarter.
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