Maybe a look at the participants is enough to make clear that the music they produce is going to be something. This program doesn't disappoint, even while many expectations may be confounded. As is often the case, when musicians are caught for posterity in a live setting, the music comes from a different place, and those expecting high energy workouts are going to be disappointed as the reality is somewhat different.
Of course it has to be emphasized that the trio of saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille is a longstanding one and its efforts on record in the past have ranged from cerebral to feral. They are three musicians who know each others' work to the point where the music they make is often greater than the sum of the parts, though not to the point at which routine or sterile is on the agenda. The degree to which pianist Irene Schweizer integrates with them is extraordinary. It could be argued that no amount of rehearsal time could explain the level of integration on the opening "Flow," where the four musicians dance around each other, even while they bring forth a compelling and unified whole. Lake's distinctive alto vocabulary is in place, the quicksilver nature of his lines like the musical equivalent of stars in a cloudless night sky.
The alto sax and piano duo on "Phrases" brings forth the sound of wisdom accrued, and in no little strength. Lake and Schweizer make no facile attempt at outdoing each other and the resulting dialogue comes complete with the imperative of the moment in place. Both players are by turns volcanic and reflective but the sense of form and their appreciation of it are never in any doubt.
The eternally enigmatic thing that is the moment is also to the fore on the cryptically titled "Timbral Interplay," taken as a duo by Schweizer and Cyrille. The momentum of the music rises and falls by degrees, and the deep listening is, for all its depth, right on the surface at the same time. The duo answers the needs of the moment with some happy corruption of meter, piano and drums dancing around each other in collaborative irresolution.
The closing "WSLC" is a study in fractious relations, with Lake's alto making the point in no uncertain terms. This is not, however, an exercise in dominant voices. Instead the group aesthetic rides supreme and the malleability of form is such that Schweizer is as much a part of the group as the others.
Personnel: Oliver Lake: alto sax; Irene Schweizer: piano; Reggie Workman: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.