Bassist Chris Lightcap heads a powerful ensemble, fronted by the twin tenor saxophones of Bill McHenry and Tony Malaby. Lightcap's favored approach is to loop syncopated, funky bass ostinatos, lock in tightly with drummer Gerald Cleaver, and let the two tenors loose. "Guinbre" and "Las Tijeras" are animated by an African- or Latin-inspired feel, while the title track and "Philly's Blount" (the latter recorded live) draw the listener in with two very different kinds of funk. Cleaver tears it up with a solo toward the end of the fiercely up-tempo "Port-Au-Prince," and also drives the free-jazz madness of "All Choked Up."
On Ornette Coleman's "I Heard It Over the Radio," the only non-original of the set, the quartet skillfully elucidates Coleman's strange brand of plaintiveness. Later, the two tenors guide us through the formless, tempoless, yet invitingly tonal topography of Lightcap's "Sad Morning." Both of these relatively toned-down numbers feature placid, heartfelt solos by Lightcap.
The absence of piano or guitar and the presence of two horns gives this group a decidedly left-of-center sound that is quite reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's classic quartet. McHenry and Malaby are taking that vocabulary in a multiplicity of new directions, however, and their work on this record is representative of contemporary tenor sax at its exploratory best. Lightcap has chosen his players wisely, and his memorable compositions provide fertile soil for inspired collective improvisation.