The meeting of drummer Steve Smith, saxophonist Dave Liebman, bassist Anthony Jackson, and Turkish keyboardist Aydin Esen is a first. While all of them have played with one another in the past, this session for Flashpoint is the first time they've all played together. These ten pieces reflect a new hybrid of acoustic and electric. There are knotty tempo and harmonic changes that reflect the density and über chopsmanship of fusion, but there is also an element of deep listening -- intricate improvisation as well that reflects the jazz heritage. Liebman is the chief composer here, his pieces are tautly composed, particularly the mid-tempo ballad "Like John." It's elegant, and looks to the margin while never losing its central focus of mode balanced with melody. Esen's compositions, such as "Speak Without Words," carry with them the rumble and tumble of stop-on-a-dime changes, turnarounds that open into improvisation and moody atmospherics. Flashpoint is -- for all of its walking the razor's edge between fusion and jazz -- far from tentative, it's an in-your-face recording that gleefully goes for broke and brings the tensions between these musics to bear freely. It's not for everyone, but for the quality of musicianship and the compositions, its noteworthy.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek