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Saxophonist Greg Ward's moderately esoteric spin on jazz signals an artist who has traversed diverse paths, including stints with electronica artist Prefuse 73, and stalwarts of progressive jazz, such as drummer Hamid Drake and saxophonist Von Freeman. Here, Ward compiles a textural and hard-hitting modus operandi, largely evidenced on "Step Forward." This piece is dabbled with metal-jazz overtures, spiced by the saxophonist and keyboardist Rob Clearfield's brute force attack.
Clearfield multitasks via crunching synth sounds and fluid electric piano lines, as the rhythm section guides the band through odd-metrics and tricky unison-based time signatures. Ward's yearning notes serve as a radiant contrast, where sugar and spice align with gargantuan opuses and torrid soloing spots as he cunningly displaces themes along the way. Ward's memorable compositions sustain interest, and by no means is this album simply a cutting contest; it's a stylish and prismatic encounter, standing as an unanticipated surprise for 2010.
Personnel: Greg Ward: alto saxophone; composition; Rob Clearfield: keyboards, piano, synth; Jeff Greene: upright and electric bass; Quin Kirchner: drums, percussion.