The sociopolitical and environmental focus on our world seems to be stronger than ever, predominantly for all the wrong reasons. But consequential calls for action can also summon a positive uprising of both energy and creativity - something particularly evident in the story behind 'Broken Circles' from New York-based saxophonist/composer Jure Pukl, with new music that reflects empathy and respect.
Previous Whirlwind releases 'Hybrid' (2017) and 'Doubtless' (2018) featured more spatial quartet and dual-tenor environments. But Pukl has also been honing this quite different quintet sound with the arresting line-up of guitarist Charles Altura, vibraphonist Joel Ross, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Kweku Sumbry.
Apparent from the opening bars of "Sustained Optimism" is the fluidity of this quintet, where Pukl's constant stream of tenor invention is echoed in the rapid elegance of guitar and vibes, supported by electrifying rhythm section; and the title track's similar determination chimes with scintillating shared phrases and improvisation. While "Separation" (a favourite of Pukl's) echoes themes of broken communities and relationships repeated across the globe, its mellow beauty serves to remind us of our responsibilities to one another; and a Chilean kalimba - "the sound of love, positivity and compassion" - announces a sublime quintet arrangement of previously recorded "Compassion".
Buoyant "Triumph of Society" - an anthem for change that starts with us all - trades tenor against vibes, also featuring remarkable guitar and drum solos, towards an almost symphonic conclusion; and Pukl's pensive bass clarinet in "Gloomy Sunday" - a 1930s Hungarian tune with dark associations - also finds the light. Elsewhere, busy 11/8 "Half Past Five" swirls with abandon; "Kids" (charmingly introduced by two young sax students) is a contemplative falling-phrase paean to the next generation; and sprightly soprano conclusion "Sky is the Limit" confirms the overarching joy in this album.