If you like small ensembles with lots of interaction between all the members, this is a great Cd. Not only do all the players communicate well with each other to keep the groove tight and the sound clean, but there's a lot of exchanging in musical ideas as well. In essence, this group has been together for a while and their playing shows it. Tenor saxophonist Matt Otto dominates most of the tracks with a smooth sound, without being overly forceful. His ideas are fairly clear and concise, but his best solos are in his chart "KCAMS". Pianist Josh Nelson also has a couple of good runs. Band leader Evan Stone, however, is always there creating a good deal of colorful sound, especially on the Latin "KCAMS". His interaction with the horn players is right on, and he can change mood with ease. The last segment of "East of the Sun" has some great trading solos.
On the whole, however, this band isn't about individual sounds, but more about the ensemble. The track selections definitely display the ensemble strengths and provide for easy listening. About half of the album is original music by the band members, including "For My Friends", "KCAMS", "Grapes", and "November Waltz". The opening track of "You and the Night and the Music" sets the tone with a strong roll from Stone. "Cheesecake" grooves incredibly well with the addition of the Hammond B3 organ and guitar. "Moonlight in Vermont" will melt your heart with the kind of sadness only a well-played ballad can. "Grapes" is a funkier selection with some interesting beats by Stone and more handy organ work. "November Waltz" and the cover of Isfahan are both very smooth, although at times a bit dry. Every chart shows a different aspect of the band and the players, so that the album itself provides a pretty clear picture of the musicians.
Evan Stone stands out in other ways as well. His record label, Red Jazz records, is the first label to begin "pod-casting" jazz over the internet. They've teamed up with Stone to release his first solo album. This seen by many as one more step towards preserving what seems to be a dying jazz culture. By putting jazz through the new medium of podcasts, Red Jazz hopes to broaden exposure of jazz , especially local groups such as Evan Stone's Los Angelos/Orange County-based group, around the world. With a fresh sound like what is heard on this album, it's likely that there will be a lot more demand in the future.