Donny McCaslin is very much a tenor saxophonist in the John Coltrane/Sonny Rollins mold, but he often varies his approach by adopting unusual instrumentation. That's what he does on Perpetual Motion, using an electric bass played by Tim Lefebvre, electric and acoustic keyboards by Adam Benjamin and Uri Caine, and drums by Mark Guiliana and Antonio Sanchéz. The electric instruments introduce fusion elements here and there, notably on "L.Z.C.M.," when a synthesizer leads the rhythm section. McCaslin can also pare things down, as he does at the start of "Claire," featuring only saxophone and drums for the first several of its 11 minutes. The often free playing of the first 57 minutes of the 67-minute running time (tracks one through seven) gives way to some unusual material that seems tacked on at the end, notably "Impossible Machine," in which producer David Binney gets to come in with his alto, and the closer, "For Someone," which is actually a piano ballad written and played solo by Caine. Those seem to be nods to McCaslin's compatriots on a long album that has already given him plenty of time to work on his ideas.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann