In his short liner notes, Cadence Jazz Records producer Bob Rusch says in characteristically honest fashion that at first he almost dismissed this recording as "more fusionesque world music," but was eventually drawn to the album's substantial qualities. The 17 tracks that characterize this release are a hodgepodge of sorts. Except for the lengthy "Inbetween the Cracks," which was recorded in 2001 and constitutes more than one quarter of the album, each of the pieces was recorded between 1996 and 1998. Those familiar with other albums co-led by Bob Magnuson and Tom DeSteno may be surprised at the style on many of the tracks, which, particularly with the synthesizer, incorporates occasional elements of so-called "smooth jazz." Although this may be seen as a divergence for its leaders, most of the album retains the sense of intense excitement that typically marks their playing, particularly when either is soloing. Still, considering the collective talent assembled (including bassist Cameron Brown and monster trombonist Ed Neumeister), the music does not always fulfill expectations, as the extra musicians often appear ornamental. Magnuson performs on an astonishing array of instruments, including four types of saxophones, two different flutes, and three kinds of clarinets plus wind synth and violin -- each of which he plays without a shade of diminished capability. There is a pristine beauty to the slower, softer pieces such as "Black Sheep," but it is Magnuson's versatility that make the greatest impression. Not every track is successful, and this is not the best place to begin to explore the music of Magnuson and DeSteno, but there are enough exciting moments to please many of their fans.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy