Many folks remember the late drummer John Stevens, primarily for his leadership of the pioneering British free improvising unit Spontaneous Music Ensemble. But with this live quartet date, culled from a 1992 jazz festival, Stevens and lesser-known jazz men turn in a sweltering, modern-bop set, awash with trumpeter/flugelhornist Byron Wallen and saxophonist Ed Jones' passionate exchanges. Stevens sets the foundation with snappy fills and rapidly swinging pulses. To that end, the excitement seldom dwindles during this upbeat exposition.
Multi-reedman Michael Attias benefits from an ace rhythm section. And while Attias' smooth tone and fluid lines generate an airy vibe, there's no shortage of power and determination here. Drummer Satoshi Takeishi rounds out the big picture with offbeat fills and pumping beats. Attias and bassist John Hebert harmonize the primary themes while the former improvises with a given melody line as he often blasts out razor sharp progressions. Complete with knotty arrangements, and upward movements, the trio makes it all seem so effortless.