An excellent recording from Chicago jazzmen Ken Vandermark, Tim Mulvenna, and Robert Barry. The trio takes classic "out" tunes and originals and makes them sparkle, giving each a clean execution that's as much inspired energy as it is technique and craft. Barry interlaces with Mulvenna, achieving a complementary and balanced percussion section that sometimes acts as foil, sometimes impetus, for the directions of the reed playing. Easily one of Vandermark's best recorded dates yet (it's a treat to hear his clarinet work here, too), Design in Time is filled with that certain something that's sometimes missing from his studio recordings, but never from his live shows. Particularly hot tracks include the trio's takes on Thelonious Monk's "Green Chimneys" and Ornette Coleman's "Feet Music." Vandermark's piece for Billy Higgins, "Well Suited," is a lovely ballad, featuring warm saxophone and summer-shower drum solos. Design in Time is a very strong jazz release that becomes more wowing and impressive with each listen.
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AllMusic Review by Joslyn Layne