From the opening "Art of War," a blistering, boppish piece featuring a jaw-dropping solo by alto saxophonist Rob Landham, the bands tight ensemble passages and intuitive use of dynamics creates an unrelenting high-energy vibe. The band is propelled by lead trumpeter Walter White, who, as a soloist, navigates through the up-tempo maze of Evans' "Big Jimmy" with strength and cleverness. Veteran saxophonist Ralph Bowen follows White on "Big Jimmy" with flowing soprano lines.
Evans contributes as a composer on four tracks and arranger on the closing "Jena 6," a Mingus-like anthem-of-a-piece with an impressive opening piano cadenza by Neal Podgurski and other-worldly, emotive wailing from alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw. The presence of Podgurski and pianist Jim Holton on the title track allows Evans the freedom to leave the piano bench and take on a director's role. Perhaps the ability to stand out in front of the band and keep all involved motivated is the key to Evans' success. The results here are fresh, forward thinking and a cut above the typical big band fare.