Trumpeter Chad McCullough, the nominal leader of this gritty quartet, recorded their superb debut album, In Circles (Origin), in his old home of Seattle before settling here in Chicago (he now teaches at DePaul). But his powerful playing and no-nonsense compositions almost seem to telegraph his move to the Windy City. With performances built around the propulsive, deep grooves sculpted by bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Kobie Watkins, McCullough and front-line sax partner Geof Bradfield get plenty of space, issuing sly jabs and feints as they traverse deftly voiced melodies before taking off with extended solos. McCullough and Bradfield have excellent intuition and add accents and cool counterpoint like they're passing a baton rather than morphing from one improvisation to the next. The compositions - most from the trumpeter, though Bradfield and Sommers contribute strong themes - call on the spirit of jazz greats like Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, and on the saxophonist's lilting "Simple Song (for Esme)," vintage David Murray. The quartet imaginatively tackle pieces by Gilberto Gil and Nick Drake too, without surrendering their limber energy and unsentimental lyricism.