Step through a distorting mirror into a universe where nothing is quite as it seems. Is that really Antonio Carlos Jobim’s One Note Samba? Yes, but now denuded of all its Brazilian lilt in favour of a groove from bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Eric McPherson that could bulldoze a road to the horizon – and just beyond the horizon is where this music lurks. The Analog Players Society (completed by tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and pianist Orrin Evans) innovate intuitively rather than intellectually.
Firing up their collective imaginations, they unravel the conventions surrounding a song that has been played a zillion times, and let the music rather than the conventions dictate. They do it again to Monk’s Epistrophy, which perhaps is less of a stretch, because Monk’s music loves being reinvented rhythmically. But the fat, crunching funk at which they arrive has McCaslin and Evans improvising with all the abandon of children, the former growling and howling, the latter chopping it apart to see how it works. The finale, Freedom Is, but a Fraction of Humanity!, is a dark dreamscape that keeps leading you further off your bearings. The collective spell is magnified by Amon Drum’s post-production magic.