Jay Collins has been influenced by many musicians, among them Steve Lacy, Dewey Redman, and Don Cherry. It is from the latter player and others like him that he has been encouraged to take a more adventurous approach to jazz. One area he has explored with success is drawing on the music of non-Western cultures, and this album integrates jazz with music from the Middle East and India, even though all but one of the compositions were written by Collins. Employing not only Western musical instruments but also the bansuri (Indian flute) and the oud (Middle Eastern lute), Collins and his band create engaging and intriguing mixtures of musical genre, often within the same song. "Ladino Song" combines Asian-based music with a Johannes Weidenmueller bass playing a bop line, creating an unusual musical spice. "Little Miracles" features Collins' sax wailing away on what sounds like a Jewish rhapsody interspersed with Michael Mazor's bop rhythms, while "Zukra" is the kind of music one associates with Turkish dances (aka "belly dancing"). With Collins' both languorous and probing tenor sax leading the way, "Oasis" suggests the relief one feels upon finding a safe haven in the middle of the desert. This album will attract those who want to be challenged (and entertained) and who believe that there should be no inhibitions in the improvisational adventures that help make jazz the compelling music that it is. Collins and his confreres are excellent musicians and are well versed in fusing music from different cultures with jazz forms. This expertise gives this album a high level of authenticity. Cross Culture is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan