With this recording, Joshua Redman attempts a long-form composition for the first time, a series of eight numbers that form a cycle of sorts. The promotional buzz claimed that Redman was taking stock of his music ten years after winning the Thelonious Monk competition, the event that had the effect of launching him full-blown into the big time. Whether or not that's true, there is a predominantly reflective, thoughtful tone about this quartet session, split between written-out passages and flat-out improvisations. The whole thing runs for a continuous yet comfortable 52 minutes, an extension of the interlude idea that Redman played with on Timeless Tales. Now and then, Redman takes up the threads of motifs heard earlier -- "Time," for example, offers a more elaborate statement of the motif that opens "Free Speech, Phase II: Discussion" -- and his point of view is often questioning, reflective, and introspective. Pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson are full partners in this journey; occasionally, Goldberg and Rogers provide individual solo links between the selections and Hutchinson keeps things relatively fresh by mixing up the rhythms. That said, it's hard to get really worked up about much of the material presented here; there isn't much that really touches or inflames the listener in a deep way. It's a summing up -- a coherent, mature statement in a familiar mainstream language.
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell