The saxophonist Joe Lovano has regularly spoken of his malleable quintet Us Five as a band that’s capable of doing and playing anything, and on the group’s brand-new Cross Culture (Blue Note), its third album, that’s never seemed more apparent. The group tackles the Ellington/Strayhorn classic “Star Crossed Lovers,” but the other ten pieces are all Lovano originals—some of which he’s recorded previously in other contexts—yet they all feel more like superflexible settings or structures than rigid compositions, allowing the players great internal latitude.

The band’s two drummers—Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela—have never sounded more comfortable, crafting huge polyrhythmic gullies that Lovano and pianist James Weidman are able to pour their improvisation into, floating across, splashing within, and sinking into the grooves. It’s remarkable how different they sound together yet how expertly they fit together, never stumbling or getting in one another’s path. Few modern saxophonists have such a mercurial tone as Lovano, as his harmonic rigor allows him to shade and smear every note with unexpected color or breathy textures, and this shape-shifting band gives it greater leeway than ever.