A reedless quartet such as this one distinguishes itself by the sonic attitude that accompanies the clarity of its musical direction. The first notes that come out of the tuba and trombone tell me that this recording is unyieldingly straight out, non-deceptive music. The vernacular of abstraction is easily spoken by this group as a result of the very nature of the brass content of the instrumentation. However, the squareness that can sometimes emanate from brass is tossed around and played with so that the sounds made from the brass will be as round as the quality of the string bass’s bowed rumbles or the discrete chords and fluid runs of the piano. The only continuously cut and dry voice is that of the drums.
The recording is not all about abstraction and seeming meterlessness. Some extremely heavily rhythmic & synchronistic charges shoot out from this quartet where emphasis is on the deep tones that all the instruments can put forth. The drums play a large part in the sustenance of the rhythm. The sound of the snare and the cymbals and hi-hats build the rhythmic foundation for the entire recording. It is as if the drums become the mainstay for the quartet. Mann’s brief solos distill the effect of the high & light pitches of the drums, which when applied in a general sense complement the predominating lowness that the remaining instruments possess characteristically and which seems to the emphasis of the recording.
The melodic approach to the music is surprisingly interwoven into the brass buzzes & hard edges. At one point, the music is really sweet as the trombone plays the tune; it quickly moves into a predictably blustery series of trills and tremolos within similar gestures from the rest of the instruments. The piano also renders contrariness to the rest of the instruments. These kinds of contrasts make the recording full and interesting.
The conclusion of the recording is a piece that lets it all go. Rhythm and abstraction are blatantly evident. And in this conclusion, the listener can also conclude that this music is not sloppy. It is as clear and forward moving as can be.