Pianist Russ Lossing, saxophonist Adam Kolker, and bassist John Hebert gathered in mid-1998 to record this set of abstract improvisations, all inspired by Bartók's 153-part solo piano cycle "Mikrokosmos." (The disc didn't see release until 2002.) Next to each track one finds the number of the Bartók episode on which it is based. The trio draws only from numbers 97 and above; this corresponds precisely to disc two of György Sandor's complete 1955 Sony recording. The rewards are perhaps greatest when one listens to the Bartók pieces and the trio improvisations back to back, one by one. Lossing, Kolker, and Hebert play to the spirit, not the letter, of these short and mysterious works, using the dissonant harmonic colors and dark modalities to ground their uncannily perceptive dialogue (or trialogue, if you will). They often modify Bartók's titles to reflect a creative transformation -- "Notturno," for instance, becomes "Lunation"; "Boating" becomes "Transiting"; and "Children's Song" becomes "Kidsong." Only the title track, "Change of Time," retains its original name. One of Bartók's more poetic appellations, "Melody in the Mist" (No. 107), becomes "Brume," and yields some of the most dazzling creative peaks. In addition, "Cells" ("Diminished Fifth," No. 101) appears as a sequence of three unaccompanied solos -- first soprano sax, then bass, then piano. Similarly, "Transiting" and "Symmetrics" ("Major Seconds Broken and Together," No. 132) both appear in two parts. The group also sets aside space for two wholly original pieces, Lossing's "Pözeny" and the collaborative, climactic "Béla," a fitting homage to the man of the hour.
AllMusic Review by David R. Adler