"Hands On"

Random Chance

If "Hands On" isn't hands down the most appealing CD by percussionist Robert Jospe and Inner Rhythm, it's still a winner by a good margin.

Credit an unusually colorful assortment of tunes, arrangements and tributes for that. When the band looks south for inspiration, the music is charged either with great spirit and drive (particularly during the Afro-Cuban romp "Mambo Mio" and Sergio Mendes' "Groovy Samba" ) or imbued with the kind of romantic lyricism that gets under your skin (check out Clare Fischer's alluring bossa nova "Serenidade"). When the focus shifts to a fusion-era tribute to Miles Davis on "Funk for Miles," the ensemble's often fiery amalgam of brass, reeds and percussion gives way to an evocative blend of muted trumpet, Fender Rhodes-like keyboard and electric guitar.

The most unlikely tune, Lennon and McCartney's "The Night Before," receives a bold Latin makeover, while the most attractive theme, Wayne Shorter's "Virgo," brings the session to a dreamy close. In between there are several other tunes, including pieces composed by Jospe and pianist Bob Hallahan, that provide ample room for mood-elevating solos and brash tandems. Jospe deservedly gets top billing here, but he often defers to an impressive lineup that features Hallahan, trumpeter John D'earth, reedman Jeff Decker, guitarist Royce Campbell, percussionist Kevin Davis, and bassists Elias Bailey and Pete Spaar.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Sunday at Blues Alley. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Robert Jospe, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8124. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)