(Whaling City Sound)
With a quintet and quartet recording under his belt on the Whaling City Sound imprint, guitarist Jim Robitaille opted to play with just his working trio on his latest release, Space Cycles (Whaling City Sound). The comfort level of the musicians is evident from the drop, and it’s no surprise that they’ve been gigging together for the past few years, having assembled during a series of jam sessions that the guitarist used to host at UMass Dartmouth. Robitaille’s writing remains at the center of the album, for which he penned seven of the 10 tunes, and the influences — both compositionally and instrumentally — of Jim Hall and Pat Metheny seem to provide guideposts for these space-filled tunes. The impact of Metheny seems particularly strong on the opening track, “Natural Selection,” a moody piece on which the guitarist’s understated leads shine with a dark luster, propelled by bassist Bill Miele and drummer Chris Poudrier’s sensitively supportive rhythmic foundation.