This "5tet’s" unusual instrumentation offers a curiously interesting proposition. Chalk it up to the artists’ willingness to explore and take risks, where trombonists David Taylor and Steve Swell align with a bass, violin and cello augmentation.
Violinist Billy Bang provides much of the upper register element during these nicely thought-out works amid a contrast-drenched, jazz-improvisation based panorama. And while Taylor and Swell take numerous soloing liberties, including some feisty exchanges, they also render triumphant unison choruses. But it’s during the mid-sections of various motifs where the strings and horns performers veer off into disparate movements, consisting of lower-register and contrapuntal passages. On "Down Home," Bang executes an Asian motif while plucking his violin strings; therefore, casting anunexpected spin into the grand scheme of matters. Otherwise, the 5tetan unexpected engages in lithely flowing swing vamps as the band is apt to segregate ideas and concrete themes, only to realign at various points within a given composition. In any event, this outing translates into quite a bit more than just a novelty production or perhaps a game-plan based upon a whim. Shifting surprises abound and it all flows naturally while the musicians’ approach does not seem forced, superfluous or beset by a lack of focus. It’s a hearty jaunt into newer musical frontiers. (Recommended.... )