Hines' trombone is expressive but restrained, generally favoring a more staccato style over the kind of wild vibrato that some bring to that horn. Hugh Ragin is a player best know for his work with such avant-gardists as David Murray and Roscoe Mitchell. Appearing here on chestnuts like "I Could Write a Book" and a large arrangement of Coltrane's "Central Park West," he brings his usual restrained fire and seems as comfortable in the pocket as in his more usual position outside. The rhythm section of Pagan on keyboards, drummer Rob Ward and bassist Mike Williams distinguish themselves throughout.
This is a really fine debut from John Hines. As a whole, In the Pocket has a feel that is not too dissimilar from some of those transitional Miles Davis Quintet records named after a prominently featured standard. The playing is quietly excellent and, with the exception of the lively "Hard Times" and "Kickin' Back," both featuring Pagan's gospel-tinged organ, the album maintains a sober, introspective mood.