The framework is the jazz tradition, and the freedom is the sextet's willingness to take untraditional sidetrips while following that path. It starts with an innovative, if not unique, lineup, featuring four reeds over a rhythm section of bass and drums, and, having abandoned certain conventions in that way, they continue to investigate the unconventional in a variety of ways, without ever losing sight of their essentially conventional goal - the production of great jazz music.
It's a goal they reach. This turns out to be a great jazz album. It's great because there's virtuouso performance. It's great because there's an original vision. It's great because they take bold chances and break new ground. And, in a near contradiction, it's great because it's essentially accessible. Every time I find myself saying "Wow, I can't believe they did that!," I find myself responding "But I'm glad they did!" It's innovation with the audience in mind. Lesser talents often confuse the boldness of the experiment with the quality of the outcome. Steckler and his musical comrades never let go of the central idea that, in the end, the experiment must serve the music, and as a result they've made an album that challenges and delights.