You won't find a more talented small group than the pianoless trio of saxophonist Phil Dwyer, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Alan Jones. The only problem with their debut recording is an imbalance in the way the individual abilities are imparted, particularly where Dwyer is concerned. While Whitaker and Jones form a solid and tasteful alliance, the saxophonist more often than not dominates the proceedings, filling every available space with Coltrane-esque runs through the register and playing in a tone that misses the subtlety and measured articulation of his bandmates.
Dwyer's five originals on the album - as well as the remainder of the material in general - are decent enough, although not entirely captivating. On one of the few songs in which the trio is captured functioning as a fully integrated unit, "Narcolypso," there is a nice counter-balance between Dwyer's frenetic blowing and Jones' laid-back coolness, while these loose, adventurous ends are perfectly tied together by Whitaker's stolid meter.
Alan Jones, who contributes two songs of his own, is perhaps the most significant revelation this recording has to offer; a phenomenal drummer whose seemingly effortless style belies his total command and versatility, he impresses throughout. His adeptness for tricky tempo shifts and utilizing the entirety of his kit singlehandedly solidifies the afore mentioned track, as well as a neat rendition of Sonny Rollins' "Airegin."
Elsewhere, Jones helps establish a languid flow to John Lewis' "Afternoon in Paris," punctuates Dwyer's uptempo "Thangs" with an adroit, resonant solo, and finally matches Dwyer's up-front intensity on Whitaker's "For Garrison." Most of the other tracks, however, follow a dismayingly consistent pattern of starting out strongly, with Dwyer hanging back as he states often interesting themes, only to inevitably undermine the songs' integrity by overplaying his solos at a volume which suggests he is competing with an enormous, electrified ensemble instead of blending with a spare, elemental rhythm section. The ineffectiveness of his hyper-aggressive style is on a number of occasions underscored by the proceeding solos of Whitaker, which opt for far fewer, yet far more reflective and focused notes. There is no question of Dwyer's virtuosity, but his tendency to leave it unchecked often disables the trio from achieving a full synergy on "Let Me Tell You About My Day." Either a modest amount of restraint on his part or a willingness of Whitaker and Jones to equivocate his zealousness would help allow the group to optimize its considerable potential on future releases.