Having dodged the hideous cover, a couple of oddly lacklustre tracks and finally a slightly weird mix, you start to reap the rewards. The mix, which compromises the music’s visceral edge by pushing the drums (especially the ride cymbal) too far behind the horns and piano, can’t disguise the collective brilliance of this collaboration between saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron.
Even when you find yourself thinking that it’s pretty standard jazz quintet fare, suddenly Oh plays a solo of such phenomenal beauty and invention (as on Space Exploration or Sky Miles) that you can’t wait to hear it again. Then there’s Lovano’s sprawling tenor, with its uniquely hollowed-out sound, loping across the sizzling grooves, or Douglas’s trumpet slicing up a line, before reconciling it with the all the aesthetic logic of a sonnet. Fields’ piano playing defies gravity like a dancer caught mid-air in freeze-frame, and Baron is forever compounding the melodic content, even as he propels the music forward. Perhaps with an edit and a remix, a slightly retro masterpiece was actually within reach.