The first recording effort of this Kansas City modern jazz band actually wasn't released until pretty close to the arrival of the second. By then, the original recording year of 1995 was long gone, the ensuing time adding nothing but lustre and experience to the players and the group as a whole. As a result, the earlier effort has more ambition and technical polish than heartfelt conviction or intensity of purpose -- though listeners who like good musicianship are sure to be at least impressed. The music was recorded in a studio in San Francisco, but pretty much as the heart and energy of a typical live performance of the group. At one point, a pretty convincing Afro-Cuban feel is set up, and Mike Dillon solos over it on vibraphone, with a "look, we can do this!" exuberance. Modal jams bring out the Pharoah Sanders side of reed player Mark Southerland, but he was already developing his interesting use of homemade reed instruments, such as the fluteaphone and hoseaphone, something that gives the band's music a homespun and slightly off-kilter veneer, useful in off-setting the sterile atmosphere that can be created by the too-polished playing of chopsy jazz or complicated arrangements, all of which can be aspects of the Malachy Papers' style. Compositions are written by all members of the group, including tributes to jazz giants such as Milt Jackson in Dillon's "Bye Bye Bags" and free jazz godfather Ornette Coleman on bassist Bill McKemy's "Mr. O.C."
AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne