While McNalley is definitively a musician to watch in the future, this recording only shows him to be still working out ideas. At times he is able to brilliantly link disparate musical thoughts into an overall framework which is strong and tightly woven. There are, however, times when it sounds like he’s practicing - running different jazz-rock patterns with little connection to his rhythmic counterparts. One of the strongest moments of the disc comes in the middle of Orange Needle Society. The three musicians leave their blistering fast-paced opening section for a period of calm and repose. It is here where you really get a sense that the musicians are all cued into each other and do indeed create a true musical conversation. As they cycle and trade small motives around the group one hears the depth to which free-jazz can be not only meaningful, but complexly interwoven. On the other hand there are points where, such as during the beginning of ZHE, there is no common thread and each of the musicians struggle.
A special note must be made regarding Tauber’s astonishing bass playing. His lines are clear, focused and harmonically brilliant. He seems to be the one musician who is able to cue in on McNally the best. One wonders what the result of this collaboration might have been had he been the leader.
One last note regarding the sound quality must be made. Recorded in a live performance venue, Cappos Café, the sound is muddled throughout. Suffering the worst are Ollis’ drums. It sounds like his set had one only mic put on it. The drums all sound tubby and there is a true lack of definition to his stick work. Pulling the bass out of the mix during the loud and fast sections is distinctly difficult and McNalley’s guitar is not well served at those junctures as well.
This disc may, in time, prove to be historic if McNalley is able to follow up on his obvious technical talents. For now, it is a statement of a young musician wishing to explore free-jazz - one of the most difficult forms to master, let alone play well.