The jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel prizes ethereality and control in his music, but that doesnt mean he shies away from the unruly or the unknown. His career as a bandleader has involved searching as well as refinement, even when he worked within a tradition, as on Reflections (Word of Mouth), a standards album released last year. This week at the Village Vanguard hes applying the feathery grace of that recording to a murkier, more elusive batch of songs, some new and others dredged from history, including his own.
His rhythm section, assertive and lithe, consists of the bassist Eric Revis and the drummer Nasheet Waits, but because of a scheduling conflict, Ted Poor filled in on drums during Wednesday's first set. The substitution made a difference: Mr. Waits, by temperament the grittier drummer, was properly acquainted with the tunes, and less reluctant to knock them around. So the second set had more of a slangy, hardy feeling, not as tentative as the first and not as precise.
Those parameters better suited Andrew D'Angelo, Mr. Rosenwinkel's frontline partner. An enlightened squawker on alto saxophone and an expressive, from-the-gut melodist on bass clarinet, Mr. D'Angelo embodies a strain of volatility that doesn't often thrive in Mr. Rosenwinkel's bands. But the two have history. In the early- to mid-1990s--during their music-school years in Boston and their downtown arrival in New York--they were members of Human Feel, a collective fed by avant-garde jazz and experimental rock.