Opening with the Steve Swanson-penned title piece, a Woody Shaw textured composition that voices Scott Robert Avidon’s muscular tenor with Emilio Rodriguez’s trumpet, the quartet burst through the speakers with authority. Avidon’s "Groove Apparatus" is the amalgamation of everything appealing about the band. Again, the arrangements, the brilliant playing by all members of this democratic alliance (pianist Jim Ridl is phenomenal) and the stunning original compositions. Drummer Edward Taylor’s "When All Is Said and Done", introduced by a poignantly stated piano, leads into a introspective tenor and flugelhorn duet. Avidon’s "Nagasaki Bypass" features a rousing unison horn line and classic Blue Note chart. Again, Taylor checks in with a relatively sedated "The Spire," on which Ridl again shows off his gargantuan chops. Guest horn player Rodriguez contributes "En Mi Conciencia Te Mate," on which conga master Renato Thoms sits in. The band clearly has an affinity for Latin jazz, and this Dizzy Gillespie-flavored number is the most conspicuous indication on the disc. Swanson’s "Once in a Blue Mood," illustrates further the band’s synchronous playing and the closing Taylor-penned "Where the River Meets the Sea," on which bass and drums set the tempo, and on which Rodriguez takes a turn on congas, is played in a Michel Camilo style.
The sum of the stellar playing, crisp arrangements and intelligently scripted compositions add up to one of the most delightful surprises of the year. Never mind that the year was 2001. This is a major treat.