After Dark hits hard from the very first track. A Jeremy Manasia original composition entitled "Ruggburn" screams with delight as drummer Charles Ruggiero blasts out a thunderous rolling opener, seemingly insuring the alertness of the audience. The band jumps on board after four bars, they come on swinging, hot and heavy with lots of energy they pull each other back and forth in a dynamic tug of war that has each member displaying gifted musical abilities. Manasia hits full sounding dark chords, he mumbles in the background (reminiscent of Bud Powell), he adds fills, sustain, time and space. Playing melody, all the while swinging incessantly and running the keyboard with sweet sounding notes - the song progresses through a rhythmic bass solo by Barak Mori returns to a verse and builds to close in dynamic fashion repeating the melody a couple of times the trio hits a downbeat and fades to the next song.
This is a well produced recording, great sound and a wonderful feel and for me most importantly, everything flows smoothly. When a guest artist is introduced you know it is still the same album the theme is on track. Ian Hendrickson-Smith is guesting on "Soul Eyes" he plays tenor saxophone and lays down smooth, grand, rounded tones in a west coast style, alla Stan Getz.
On the song "When You Smile" composed by Manasia and Ruggiero, Jane Monheit makes a guest appearance, same thing - everything flows beautifully. The feel is vibrant and uplifting, with Monheit adding her lead instrument, vocals, to compliment the trios depth of musicality. An excellent tune.
The classical overtones are heard in songs such as "Ria", "Search For Moonlight" and "Bayside Reflections". Perhaps contemporary classical is a more fitting description. Or even contemporary jazz. I personally like Ellington’s classification of music, "There are two kinds of music. Good music and the other kind." After Dark fits into the category of the first kind, Good Music.