Pianist David Berkman contributed 11 of the 12 selections on his Palmetto debut as a leader, a quintet set with such forward-looking and creative improvisers as trumpeter Tom Harrell, Steve Wilson on alto and soprano, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Brian Blade. Most of the originals contain unexpected twists and turns, with the one standard (Duke Ellington's "Take the Coltrane") having the rhythmic melody played in unusual fashion by drummer Blade. "Not a Christmas Song" hints a bit at an unrelated Christmas tune; "Pennies" is a duet between drums and a prepared piano that has pennies inserted between the strings of the keyboard, resulting in a tone that sounds like a steel drum; and "Sense of Loss" features some emotional Harrell trumpet. Another highlight is "Fairy Tale," which sounds quite unique due to bassist Okegwo playing only the roots of the chords. A consistently stimulating and subtle set that rewards repeated listenings.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow