John Lindberg, known for his contributions to the String Trio of New York, also excels as a leader. His second recording as leader of this particular ensemble, Winter Birds, makes this clear. Lindberg leads a quartet with trumpeter/flugelhornist Baikida Carroll, multi-reed player Steve Gorn, and drummer Susie Ibarra. The disc is full of surprising moments. Opening with a brief suite consisting of five diverse miniatures, "Bam! Quatre" feats an ominous bass line under the careful interaction between Carroll's trumpet and Gorn's clarinet. Gorn switches to soprano sax for the breezy, strutting "Bam! Cinq," while "Bam! Neuf" suggests a bizarre Teutonic circus. "Bam! Onze" features the bassist playing arco in the lead, with Carroll retreating to play a rhythmic role. The playful "Bam! Sept" wraps it very neatly. Gorn (on clarinet) and Carroll exchange bird-like lines to introduce "Winter Birds," though the piece takes on a new character as the rhythm section joins them, moving away from free jazz into post-bop territory. Gorn takes center-stage in the haunting, Oriental-sounding "Ether" by overdubbing two bansuri flutes, backed by Lindberg's eerie bowed bass and Ibarra's exotic percussion. Lindberg's challenging scores will never be mistaken for background music; they demand complete attention to be properly appreciated. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden