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One unspoken premise of improvisation is that serendipity can yield musical moments beyond the scope of premeditation. Trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s third live album, Axiom, features many such moments — grooves shift weight to expose counter-rhythms, and scribbled climaxes heave irrepressibly out of tranquil expanses. But in this case, the existence of the album is serendipitous in and of itself. Axiom draws from a week-long Blue Note stint recorded in mid-March. It turned out to be the group’s last set prior to quarantine. As with most live recordings, the album functions more as a signifier of a live show than as a surrogate for the actual concert experience. The stage banter and dinner-set ambience allude (nostalgically) to dark rooms full of attentive audiences, just as recording constraints emerge to break the spell; Adjuah is fond, for instance, of rough-hewn high notes that lose potency when compressed below their ear-splitting natural volume. Nevertheless, the band succeeds in delivering a bolder and more humanized take on their highly polished repertoire of the past five years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC3ML-6hJPQ With hand percussionist Weedie Braimah weaving a traditional sound palette throughout the muscular grooves of Corey Fonville’s electronically enhanced drum kit, Adjuah’s septet feels more grounded than ever in their fusion of contemporary and traditional genres. “Diaspora” lifts off with Elena Pinderhughes’ flute shimmering through an airy Afrobeat texture. The new composition “Huntress (for Cara)” cloaks Kris Funn’s lumbering dub bass line with an ecstatic clamor of brass, cymbals and percussion (both manual and trap-sampled). Adjuah songbook favorites, such as “Sunrise in Beijing” and “West of the West,” reveal their post-bop bones in the absence of studio-production while still referencing the electronica and blues-rock idioms in which they are respectively rooted. And yet, despite this modernized adaptability, the spirit of the group consistently recalls 1960s Coltrane. Axiom highlights the soulfulness and transcendent aim at the core of each stylistic realm. — Asher Wolf