For his fourth album, trumpeter Liam Sillery decided to explore a bit further afield than his previous sets had gone. Walking the line between traditional and free jazz, Phenomenology provides moments of tender melodies and flights of instrumental showcasing alike. The album opens with the title track, starting with nearly but not quite parallel lines between the horns that are at once reminiscent of Miles Davis' tonal work and Albert Ayler's multiple-front approaches. As the piece progresses, there are lengthy exploratory bits from both sax player Matt Blostein and pianist Jesse Stacken, both of whom get to show off some interesting ideas along the way. After a slightly self-contradicting round in "Lifecycle," "Holding Pattern" makes another showcase for outstanding solos from each of the horn players. There's a slow, ranging ballad of sorts in "Koi" that lets the band flow almost tidally for a period, and the album finishes on a somewhat more banging, thrashing number that focuses almost subtly around Vinnie Sperrazza's drums, accentuated at each note with some form of punctuation. It's a fairly short trip from one end of the album to the other, but it's a fine trip with a bevy of interesting melodic ideas along the way. Free jazz, tonal jazz, and straight-ahead improvisation all make their marks, and do so under the cover of a coherent whole.
AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg