The Mosaic Sextet resembles a cross between a classical chamber ensemble and a free-jazz workshop. Though it rarely performs live, and records even less frequently, the ensemble has been together since 1987. The band's out-of-print first recording, 1988's TODAY, THIS MOMENT, is included on this double-disc set, along with a full disc of outtakes and unreleased material from those same sessions. The whole thing shines with the group's gift for combining improvisation with extended, classically influenced composition.
The sextet's sound is distinguished by its unique instrumentation, including piano, violin, bassoon, contrabass, trumpet (the incomparable Dave Douglas), and drums. Strains of the European modern-classical tradition (from Stravinsky to Stockhausen) can be heard amidst blues-based structures that draw on bop, swing, free jazz, and progressive rock. Save two tracks by bassoonist Michael Rabinowitz, Douglas and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens are the principal composers, and their respective styles--classical control on the part of Douglas, freer improvisation on the part of Stevens--mirror the group's complementary impulses. MOSAIC SEXTET offers a rare glimpse of an exhilarating and utterly unique contemporary jazz fusion.