Jazz Valedictorians, Cyberpunks and Country Troubadours

Hank Jones
A serene valedictory air hangs over “Come Sunday" (Emarcy), a collaboration between Charlie Haden, one of jazz's great bassists, and Hank Jones, one of its finest pianists.

Recorded in February 2010—just three months before Jones died, at 91—the album opens meaningfully with the gospel standard “Take My Hand, Precious Lord." It's a hymn of earthly transcendence and spiritual succor, like much of what follows, including “Blessed Assurance," “Going Home" and “Nearer My God to Thee." Jones was the son of a Baptist deacon, and Mr. Haden grew up singing songs like these; both are on terra firma here, resuming an earnest conversation that began with “Steal Away: Spirituals, Hymns and Folk Songs" (Verve), which they recorded in 1994. “Come Sunday" is a more delicate album than that one, which often used its material as a springboard for soulful elaboration. This time the melodies stand supreme, whether they're fleshed out by Mr. Jones, with respectful filigree, or by Mr. Haden, with a lumbering grace. The album is due out on Tuesday, the same day that Mr. Haden, 74, will be inducted as an NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. Jones, who received that honor in 1989, spent the next 20 years living up to its standard; this album, touched by humility, honors his memory well.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

A substantial portion of the stark foreboding in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"—the David Fincher film, based on the Stieg Larsson novel—can be traced to its atmospheric original soundtrack, now available in various formats on the Null label. It's the second such effort by Trent Reznor, the mastermind and frontman of Nine Inch Nails, and Atticus Ross, his frequent collaborator; their first was the Academy Award-winning score to Mr. Fincher's 2010 film “The Social Network." Contrast is the core secret behind their success. You'll often hear them deploy a fragile, organic timbre over something synthetic and ominous. (A track called “Hidden in Snow," with its throbbing drone and plinking strings, exemplifies this strategy.) But you don't achieve results like this with the mere application of a formula. Mr. Reznor and Mr. Ross share a fantastic command of texture, and they wring the most out of every sonic detail, whether it's an acoustic bass ("People Lie All the Time") or what sounds like a gamelan ("The Heretics"). The resulting soundscape is more emotionally affecting than you might expect, given the cyberpunk milieu; then again, this is a habitat that Mr. Reznor has inhabited for many years. The full soundtrack, which runs to nearly three hours, also includes the snarling cover of Led Zeppelin's “Immigrant Song," with Karen O on vocals, that added punch to a preview teaser for the film.

Trio M

The pianist Myra Melford, the bassist Mark Dresser and the drummer Matt Wilson make up Trio M, a collective with a clear bead on the free jazz legacy of the 1960s. But “The Guest House" (Yellowbird/Enja), the group's excellent second album, doesn't feel tethered to any era or dialect. With compositions by all three members, it's a crisp, engaging ride, variously roiling or reflective, with high-wire interplay at almost every turn. Abstraction suits these musicians, but there's more funk here than you might expect: on the title track and “The Promised Land," both by Ms. Melford; on “Ekoneni," an African-inspired theme by Mr. Dresser. As for Mr. Wilson he contributes one chirpy, boppish tune—"Don Knotts," after the actor whose cadences it deftly mimics—along with an imploring ballad and a coolly fervent homage. The homage is “Al," after the free-jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. The evocations of its melody are striking, but no less than the jostling ecstasies that ensue.

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