Recorded live in Poland and for a Polish jazz record label, this is a passionate set by one of the great (and slightly under-recognized) modern jazz outfits in the business. And while the group moniker remains the same, this is the piano trio variety sans the services of trumpet great Herb Robertson. Nonetheless, it’s a democratic engagement where memorable melodies and choruses attain equal ground with dense frameworks and endearing improvisational forays.
Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens steers the rhythm section thru bumpy roads and disparate angles via hammering block chords and asymmetrical rhythmic flows. Tonal contrasts abound, where bassist Joe Fonda occasionally uses his bow to augment an abundance of motifs that stop, restart and spawn anew. Expansive and emotive, the trio seamlessly morphs staggered free-form dialogues into spiraling motifs and buoyant swing vamps. And on the piece titled "The Search," the they integrate a bouncy groove into a boisterous bop vibe.
Stevens executes a series of dreamy chords atop the rhythm section’s peppery undercurrents during "The Path," which is comp that segues into a powerful jazz-waltz movement. Nonetheless, surprises abound here as this recently issued album looms as one of the top jazz-trio performances of 2007. In addition, and unlike many other units, it’s quite discernible that the artists combined efforts yield an elevated sense of unity and insight.