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Album Review | JAZZ

Yuto Kanazawa, ‘Earthwards’

This assured debut by Tokyo-born, Berklee-trained composer and guitarist Yuto Kanazawa, 26, sounds eminently polite on the surface. But more complicated cross-currents lie below — enough to create engrossing listening, even if you play this in the background for your next dinner party. The record swings hard throughout, with the aggressive rhythm section frequently aiming friendly fire at Kanazawa’s smooth guitar lines and elegant head arrangements. Drummer Jonathan Pinson turns the neat trick of flashing exciting dexterity without competing with soloists. Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere is a fountain of brisk, walking bass lines (see “Earthwards”), and Felix Pekli offers shapely clarinet flurries on the tightly packaged standout track “Floating Twice.” A thrillingly chaotic coda to “Truth & the Abstract Blues” hints at a band ready to veer from the mainstream jazz predominating. It’s no slight to say his best achievement here may be in assembling the band (also including tenor saxman Mario Castro). (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Floating Twice”

Yuto Kanazawa performs at Scullers on Feb. 13.

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