It happens that a recording whose implicit hypothesis concerns one of the many interpretations of the term “free jazz” incorporates a number of fugitive depictions that, in the final analysis, push the music elsewhere (though in this particular case the exemption from classifications remains visible throughout). Confusion Bleue – a 2010 release by pianist Nobu Stowe – is such an album. The group, besides the leader (who doubles on Wurlitzer, glockenspiel and nanbu-tetsu bell), is shaped by Ross Bonadonna (guitars, alto sax), Tyler Goodwin (double bass) and Ray Sage (drums). Let me tell you, this is not an easy review to write. Essentially, the problem lies in the discrepancy between the general plan of attack – the players constantly transported by an internal current of ceaseless searching for riveting improvisational solutions – and the actual sonic upshot, which to these ears (and I stress “these ears”) arrives as somewhat disjointed, in spite of numerous openings towards a lyrical quietness amidst the more extremist traits. There’s no arguing about the instrumental consistency of the quartet, all members remarkable in their attempt to walk edgeways along a whole course of stylistic superimpositions. And yet – given also a not exactly transparent quality of the mix – quite often my mind could not choose a definite path across what sometimes sounds like a sort of civilized havoc. At the end of the day, a record chock full of good intentions and optimistic vibrations but with acoustic components that don’t gel as this writer would have loved to hear.