Anyone expecting anything but the unexpected will likely be bothered and bewildered by Groundtruther's maiden voyage Latitude. Groundtruther is a more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts amalgam of the complete creative range of the participants: the sparkling groove-jazz wail of Charlie Hunter, the Third Stream/fusion/avant-hard bop of Bobby Previte, or the lithe, angular, Andrew Hill-meets-Cannonball Adderley at Roscoe Mitchell's house hard bop of Greg Osby. Groundtruther is more of a concept than a "band" in the usual sense: A Guest joins the duo of Previte and Hunter and they improvise. Wait, if free improvisation usually turns you off, don't jump to the next review -- and you free improv types that abhor anything smacking of accessibility, stick around a bit, as this'll likely appeal to you, maybe. These gents manage to combine and balance laying down grooves (though they be abstract, but grooves nonetheless), empathetic free playing, and surreal ambiance/soundscapes. Here there be the best aspects of each players' style joined together into something fresh and unique. Best of all, there are 11 concise, tantalizing tracks, so you know these fellows are "editing" themselves, forgoing any excess whatsoever, drawing you in but not leave you floating in the ionosphere. If a wizard/scientist/mix-master could take the best parts (including their Spirits, not just sounds 'n' riffs) of the legendary-in-their-spheres-and-beyond albums Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and Brian Eno's Another Green World, Latitude would be the probable result. This may indeed turn out to be one of THE platters of '04.