Jamie Stewardson uses the ten-beat cycle called jhaptal as the title for this recording. He uses the beat effectively to make the title tune a standout, but he goes beyond the North Indian rhythm cycle to gather several other idiomatic pulses as well. In tandem, they bring about a strength to his compositions, which are fleshed out by the band. Stewardson has gathered a sturdy cast of players, each with a vision that builds the body with sinew and soul.
Stewardson sets up the arrangement for "Jhaptal on drums and bass before chiming in on the guitar. The eloquent, earthy evolution continues to build when Tony Malaby gives the melody its form. He then goes out and constructs his own edifice, with angles jutting against smooth lines. Stewardson bites down, the melody the clay for his enterprise, which he unveils in fat, rounded notes that find their counterpoint in emphatic chord work.
"Combinatoriality may not be an easy word to pronounce, but the tune sure hits home. It sits on the edge of bop, a vehicle that sees Malaby in strong voice and infusing a little swing in his playing, Stewardson essaying an enveloping melodic air, and Alexei Tsiganov flitting in with the final light touch on vibraphone. George Schuller deserves credit for his light, precise drumming, which drives the pulse; John Hebert's bass gets into the groove and keeps it nice and tight.
Personnel: Jamie Stewardson: guitar; Tony Malaby: tenor sax; Alexei Tsiganov: vibraphone; John Hebert:
bass; George Schuller: drums.