Sonic Reducer

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Drummer Tain Watts plays with an ecstatic but measured polyrhythmic intensity that can be lightened to a caress as needed, animating his urbane compositions with irresistible grooves and juicy street-smarts—now hip, now impish, now cheeky. (You can dress him in a tux, but there’s always a tasty whiff of barbecue.) Marcus Strickland (tenor and soprano sax), Christian McBride (bass) and David Kikoski (pianoforte, and extremely keen rhythmic sense), plus occasional guests, move energetically through seven originals, two from Keith Jarrett, one from the late Kenny Kirkland, covering mainstream territory from ballads to blues, dense modern harmonics to Gospel-tinged reflections. (MM)

Various Artists KitsunŽ Maison Compilation 4 (KitsunŽ)

Every minute of French music/clothing label Kitsuné’s latest amalgam of dance-electro pop makes me feel like I’m walking on air. It’s a collection of club-kid anthems, to be sure, but you don’t have to be a fashion-forward douche to get into this album. (Although it probably doesn’t hurt.) With a surprisingly slow starting pace, the album (licensed to EMI for worldwide distribution in November) doesn’t reach a feverish dance-hall tempo until its midpoint, with Dragonette’s banger "I Get Around (Juggernauts remix)." Darkel, Feist, Thieves Like Us and Guns N’ Bombs all have selections on the release. (SM)

Wyclef Jean Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant (Sony)

What does it sound like when a supercomposer finds himself working deftly within the popular vernacular? Sounds like Wyclef Jean’s got a new album. Orchestrating hip-hop beats, guitars, funk horns, Bollywood, and guests like Paul Simon, Shakira and Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Jean proves his mastery. Even with all that going on, his album remains entirely his, somehow both personal and universal. This one’s for your idiot friends who think hip-hop isn’t music. This one’s for that kid who thinks if it ain’t gangsta, it ain’t real. This is the best of his solo releases. (MD)

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