Guitar great John Abercrombie weaves some magic with violinist Mark Feldman, drummer Joey Baron and new member, bassist Thomas Morgan who replaces Marc Johnson. Ten years running, the core unit adheres to a detail-oriented jazz spectrum. With solemn and ever-so-gentle dialogues between the soloists, they intermittently rev it up via buoyant and lunging song-forms.
Abercrombie’s climactically driven and warmly evocative phrasings work wonders with Feldman’s sweet, staccato lines, where the band uses depth and space as vantage points. It’s a provocatively constructed musical architecture, often paralleling the imagery shown on the album cover art, portraying a nighttime cityscape. The musicians indeed, project a study in subtle contrasts with the delicacy of an artiste stroking a canvas.
The program includes soaring theme-building exercises and a softly iterated jazz waltz, enamored by Feldman’s plush choruses on "Anniversary Waltz." With a progressive-jazz approach, the guitarist's crystalline voicings occasionally induce an ethereal vibe, even during the intensifying improvisational segments. And it’s a diverse set, complete with a Middle Eastern dirge, tinged with a mysterious aura on the aptly titled, "Chic Of Araby." Here, Abercrombie cunningly emulates an oud via his electric guitar-based progressions atop Baron’s procession-like tom rolls and Morgan’s contrapuntal notes.
It’s yet another sterling entry into the guitarist’s vast discography. Essentially, the quartet presents an alliance that offers symmetrical notions of eloquence and gutsy determination. They impart subtle chamber stylizations, mainly used for shading and sentiment, but also up the ante throughout various passages. Overall, the band prods your neural network in rather persuasive fashion.