Jim Cifelli has gathered together a fine band of musicians for this third outing with his nonet. The tunes, almost all originals, hold up pretty well too. The charts make for clean ensemble lines and leave room for the soloists to capture and extend upon the essence of the melody. There are a couple of exceptions. “What Is this Thing Called Love” soft-shuffles across and does not develop ideas convincingly. However, Barbara Cifelli is bold and warm on the baritone, a well structured bridge. Then there’s the title tune which is too cluttered in parts of the arrangement and doesn’t get anywhere.
And now for the revelatory times when the nonet kicks in and whips attention. “Go,” a bright, breezy tune, swings right from the start. The soloists are in their element with a particularly nice turn from McCann. Bringing in the guitar here was inspirational. “Prayer” is a meditative piece; Jim Cifelli’s linear movements nestle becomingly against the other horns and when he is on his own the effect is stunning. That the arrangement does not go out on a limb for the Wayne Shorter medley does not detract from the fact that there is fluidity in the approach, more so when the soloists are on. Frahm twists and turns, his tenor having enough bite and snap to invigorate the atmosphere. All said and done, this has more on the plate than under the table.