After primarily concentrating on solo and trio recordings for an extended time, pianist Fred Hersch opted to expand his group to a quintet for this outstanding session. With Nasheet Waits on drums and longtime bassist Drew Gress, Hersch's choice of trumpeter and flügelhornist Ralph Alessi and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby proves to be an inspired one. Other than a gorgeous interpretation of the Beatles' timeless ballad "And I Love Her," whose arrangement has the flavor of an impressionist like Satie, the songs are all originals by the leader. Hersch's "A Riddle Song," which is made up of intervals of perfect fifths, is an infectious post-bop vehicle created to feature the phenomenal Waits, though the pianist has his say with some wailing choruses of his own. "Miss B" is a funky off-kilter tune with a call-and-response between Alessi and Malaby. "Black Dog Pays a Visit" (whose title was inspired by Winston Churchill's term for depression) is a complex moody work that packs an emotional punch. The intricate "Marshall's Plan" hints at the influence of Bill Evans. "Lee's Dream," which honors Lee Konitz and owes its creation to the chord changes of "You Stepped Out of a Dream," is a fascinating duet by Hersch and Malaby. This is yet another highly recommended addition to Fred Hersch's vast discography as a leader.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden