Multi-reedman Tom Christensen, covers a lot of musical terrain on Paths, his second release as a leader. The group spans world music, free-bop, Ornette Coleman-esque harmolodics, and more. Whereas the ensemble's crisp, and somewhat deterministic sound is partly due to Christensen and fellow reedman, Charles Pillow's often-illuminating exchanges, Satoshi Takeishi casts a multifarious light to the entire production, thanks to his array of small percussion instruments and drums. Even during swing vamps and free jazz opuses, the percussionist embeds a hodgepodge of indigenous grooves and instruments into familiar rhythmic patterns.
The band ventures into free jazz terrain on "Negative Clank," while also interrogating dreamy blues-tinged balladry on "You're My Everything." Christensen's softly woven soprano sax work is augmented by the rhythm section's world-beat structures on a few works that might spark notions of the group, "Oregon." But, the impetus behind this outing resides within the leader's spacious arrangements and acute penchant for detail. Otherwise, he can seemingly knock walls down, as evidenced by his work on some of the upbeat numbers. By the end of the day, it becomes outwardly apparent that Christensen possesses the goods to be a major force within the global modern jazz arena. (Strongly recommended)