One can get a little "thrown" just by looking at the instrumental lineup of an album, sometimes - take Vice & Virtue, f’r instance. I looked at the personnel listing on the back of the CD case: two fellows, one guy playing the trumpet family o’ brass and the other drums and trumpet (w/ a special guest trombonist) - I concluded from such a lineup that I was in for an AACM-like free/tres avant jaunt down brass-blat alley. Hey, don’t look at me that way - you don’t pick up an album whose credits include a trio of, say, just sousaphone, viola and marimba and automatically think, "hey, another set of mellow standards I can put on while I cook dinner for That Special Someone." While this platter is unlikely to be on most folks’ list of romantic mood-setters, it’s not lease-breaker material either. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi seems to draw equal amounts of inspiration from Clifford Brown, Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman for an intellectually stimulating set of loose-form (not free-form) bebop that doesn’t forsake swing and rhythmic impetus. Alessi has a tone that has some C. Brown kinetic invention and D. Cherry plaintiveness, and he’s not afraid to let the judicious use of silence n’ space speak for him. Compositionally, he reminds me of Thelonious Monk (whose "Bye-Ya" he covers here) and John Surman: brisk, minimalist, folk-like themes, some subtle baroque undertones and an avoidance of sappiness. Shane Endsley has some of that Milford Graves/Han Bennink thing goin’ on, but he’s also got that Kenny Clarke/Roy Haynes feel for propulsion. Vice.... is singular pleasure, one of those rare discs that neatly strides that far out/far in/straightahead/free jazz-divide, requiring you to take it on its own merits.