One of the first things that is apparent when looking at this CD is that Barry Romberg has a sense of humour, evident not only in the titles of his compositions, but also the text of the liner notes, particularly a question and the relevant answer. The crackerjack band he has includes some of the finest improvisers who can take a melody, lay it open, and make it whole again. That they have played together before makes their empathy all the more telepathic and vibrant.
No Soap Radio is a continued progression (part four) of Romberg's "Random Access series, and it is the strongest. The compositions open the door to collective playing and smaller intimate conversations, both of which are erudite. And so on to the "3rd Rock From The Sun, brought into sound by the tenor sax of Peter Lutek, essaying a Middle Eastern-sounding melody which spreads its wings on the rippling tide of the strings. Geoff Young takes up the thread of creativity, releasing unhurried notes that are rich in their detail. As is his way, Romberg plays with accents that devolve their impetus of the beat, the snares flecked, his rolls short and quick before he punctuates with more fulsome runsquite in contrast to the nuanced ambit of Hugh Marsh on the violin.
Romberg moves on to a quintet for "One Sock One Shoe. The rhythm sets one line, the saxophone of Kelly Jefferson and the trumpet of Kevin Turcotte another. Does it work? Marvellously! The melody is an instant ear-grabber and Turcotte, a player anyone would savour listening to, turns in some crackling ideas while Jefferson bends and squiggles lines on the soprano saxall of which is textured by Romberg's urgent drumming. For something that swings, there's the lair of "Funky Monk. Young churns up the heat with a bouncy run saturated by the melody and counterpointed by some thick chords. The joy of this cooking little tune is extended by Artie Roth, whose acoustic bass sings in jubilation. Adrean Farrugia plays the fourth hand, catching the infection and laying it down on the keyboards.
Romberg casts a spell and leaves you waiting to see what will transpire next.
Personnel: Barry Romberg: drums, electronic percussion, keyboards; Geoff Young: guitars, guitar
loops; Hugh Marsh: violin; Peter Lutek: tenor sax, brass pipes; Greg Dedenus: Rhodes;
Monica Fedrigo: cello; Artie Roth: acoustic bass; Kelly Jefferson: tenor and soprano sax;
Kevin Turcotte: trumpet; Adrean Farrugia: keyboards.