Although John Lewis is listed as the leader (this album's alternate title is "John Lewis Presents Contemporary Music"), the pianist does not actually appear on this record and only contributed one piece ("Django"). On what is very much a Gunther Schuller project, Schuller composed "Abstraction" and was responsible for the adventurous three-part "Variants on a Theme of John Lewis (Django)" and the four-part "Variants on a Theme of Thelonious Monk (Criss-Cross)"; Jim Hall contributed "Piece for Guitar & Strings." One of the most successful third stream efforts, this LP combines avant-garde jazz with aspects of classical music. Among the more notable stars, altoist Ornette Coleman is on "Abstraction" and "Criss Cross" (both of which have been reissued in his Rhino CD box) and multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy is on both of the "Variants." Other musicians in the eclectic cast include guitarist Hall, bassist Scott LaFaro, pianist Bill Evans, and several classical string players. This is very interesting music.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow