The core trio led by acoustic/electric pianist Pat Daugherty gets a boost on the band’s 2008 release. Now a sextet featuring Leon Gruenbaum’s Samchillian keyboard, which according to the artist’s website is a "MIDI controller that is based on intervals rather than fixed pitches," is rounded out with vocals, reeds and a rhythm section. In addition, Mal Stein is credited with providing the Soundscape.
Subtle shades of Weather Report surface on the opener titled "10 to 11," where Daughtery’s resonating Fender Rhodes clusters and Till Behler’s spunky sax parts lay out a punchy groove. And in other regions of the album, the band flirts with jazz-fusion motifs amid peppy swing and shuffle themes. The musicians also execute ascending choruses, sparked with polytonal textures and knotty time signatures. In effect, they incorporate several stylizations into a largely seamless sequence of musical events also spanning honky-tonk keys, rock and contemporary jazz.
On the piece titled "Hymn including," the band spawns a slow rock pulse with trickling synth lines and punchy accents, although it is difficult for me to discern where Gruenbaum’s Samchillian work falls into the mix. Or perhaps these ears can’t tell the difference between normal EFX treatments and oscillating chord progressions. Yet the band does generate some interesting backdrop vistas with kudos to Stein who seemingly injects faint sound sculpting techniques into the sum of the parts.
The septet renders more than a few subtle surprises throughout the grand schema via some clever arrangements, to include Deanna Kirk’s whispery vocals atop a Latin ostinato pulse on "The Beauty of Ambiguity." Overall, the band’s modish line of attack lends itself to a spirited approach that is irrefutably upbeat. And I’ll go out on a short limb here, by asserting that the best is yet to come from these forward-thinking musical minds.