Drummer Ari Hoenig's light touch and crisp writing make Bert's Playground a fun session. With a constantly shifting cast of musicians throughout the date, the drummer primarily utilizes a trio with either Jonathan Kreisberg or Gilad Hekselman on guitar and Matt Penman or Orlando LeFleming on bass. John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" provides a solid opener with guest tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, though it is not played as a straight barnburner, while Kreisberg adds a bit of fun with his detour into "Autumn in New York" in the midst of his solo. His spacious, quiet trio scoring of Wayne Shorter's "Fall" works well without the presence of a sax. Hekelsman is front and center in the sparkling post-bop treatment of the standard "The Way You Look Tonight." Hoenig is all alone on a spacious, haunting arrangement of "'Round Midnight," not exactly a piece that one expects in such a setting. Alto saxophonist Will Vinson is added for Hoenig's potent post-bop vehicle "Bert's Playground."
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden