This band has managed to become one of the darlings of the progressive jazz stratum. With its fourth release, the unit’s mark of distinction moves forward, where strong compositions amid the customary trimmings set forth an engagingly quixotic listening experience. With that notion in mind, the musicians’ trademark sound consisting of thumping bass grooves, perky back-beats and complex ostinatos remain intact. As they intermix that sometimes opaque area of tight-knit unity and loose groove improvisation, often firmed up by Ted Reichmann’s zinging accordion lines. Even the off-kilter, free-form passages provide a sense of endearment.
The piece titled "August 5th, 2006 (for Kate Schroeder and family)," is designed with clarinetist Chris Speed’s whimsical passages, accelerated by his band-mates’ mini-symphonic movements. Here and throughout, master musical mind and drummer John Hollenbeck’s musicality shines via his artful use of electronics and small percussion-based accents. And in other regions of this disc, the band employs punch, zip and buoyantly forceful thematic forays. On "Rug Boy (for Debbie Clapper)," Reichmann and Hollenbeck engage in free-jazz dialogues, but help alter the flow during "For You," which is an avant, world-groove motif. As with their previous albums, they occasionally delve into spacey and subtly executed dream themes. However, the mood is revved up on the peppery calypso "Rainy Days/Peanut Vendor Mash-up (for all music teachers)," signaling in the ensemble's catchy and irrefutably jubilant melody line, that is nicely softened by Speed’s feathery phrasings.
With dabs of wit and whimsy, the quintet fuses a sense of intrigue into many of these works. In sum, their deceptively complex modus operandi reminds me of The Beatles large-scale productions; take Sgt Pepper's... for example. And while this album is not produced in such a manner, core similarities parallel the making of great music, regardless of genre. To that end, the sum of the many parts and layers, translate into a product that aims to please - in rather grand and attainable fashion I might add.