Of Robbins' band mates, Tyshawn Sorey is arguably the most integral as a drummer whose rhythmic versatility and perspicacity is seemingly impossible to surpass. His constantly active and pan-directional stick play hardly falls under rubric of subordinate accompaniment, Rubik's Cube beats coming fast and furious from his kit. Cornetist Jesse Neuman and guitarist Mike Gamble each make ample use of electronic effects with varying degrees of success. Neuman's horn almost sounds like a chromatic harmonica on the opening edit/revise", expanding into Milesean watercolors for his solo. Gamble's florid rock-inflected runs are sometimes spill over into excessive distraction, but there's no denying the precision he applies with plectrum and pedals. His rippling melancholic chords in the opening minutes of his life, for all its waywardness" feature him at his best and the entrance of the others almost feels like an intrusion.
Bassist Thomas Morgan isn't often a foreground presence, but his contributions are just as essential as his more gregarious partners. The rubber band ostinato snapping gently between Sorey's chattering syncopations on the flowing some southern anthem" and the oleaginous unaccompanied introduction to Bugle Call" are just two example of his sturdy pizzicato placement. The latter is the first of four final pieces that trade Neuman for pianist Cory Smythe and the added 'acoustic' presence subtly alters the ensemble dynamic without undercutting its guiding characteristics. Intricate meter investigations and free-spooling melody are still prominent preoccupations, Sorey lighting brushfires beneath Robbins' and Gamble with his sticks even in the closing tightly-wound collective improvisation. This one took me some time to warm to, but once it clicked the rewards were ongoing.