Four in the Afternoon is among the first albums that documented bassist Tony Wren's comeback on the British free improv scene. The quartet for this studio date had convened only three times before. When listening to Four in the Afternoon, one often thinks of Mujician. The two groups perform with equal passion and following similar inspiration. Of course, much could be said of the musical relationship between Howard Riley and Keith Tippett -- from their albums together to the way they integrate their jazz background into their approach to free improv rather than choke it. But one can easily argue that saxophonists Larry Stabbins and Paul Dunmall, despite the fact that they both play tenor and soprano saxophones, couldn't be less alike. The same goes for drummer Mark Sanders, more textural and expansive than his counterpart, and bassist Wren, more soft-spoken. And yet, inhabited by these well-defined personalities, Four in the Afternoon holds something of the same. When Riley explores a romantic jazz theme in "Where Are the Snows...," shivers run up and down the listener's spine. The climax halfway into "Game of Two Halves" also provides a magical moment; so does Sanders' light but highly complicated playing at the end of "Blue Dark." This is a beautiful album of free improv, very different in style from the 2001 CD Angel Gate by Wren's Quatuor Accorde.
AllMusic Review by François Couture