Phil Grenadier opens Playful Intentions with Bud Powell's bebop nursery song "Borderick," and closes the session with a meandering free improvisation. Between the two tracks he explores a variety of moods and modes that bridge those extremes. He parlays free bop on "At a Loss" and "Tough Love," some rock covers -- Fiona Apple's "On the Bound," and Radiohead's "Idioteque," and even a piece -- "What is This Unanswered Question?" -- that sounds like Charles Ives channeled through Bitches Brew. It seems Grenadier is searching for the right frame for his trumpet, and he hasn't quite found it yet. What he has done is honed a distinctive trumpet style with which he can deliver cutting statements on the most diverse material. His solos encapsulate the variety of material from the sing-song quality of the opener to the jabbing passion of the freer tunes. His thematic variations on the title track are stunning. He's abetted by the fluid rhythmic work of his brother, Larry Grenadier, on bass and drummer Jeff Ballard. In more circumspect roles, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and pianist Bill Carrothers provide shimmering textures and harmonic colors.
AllMusic Review by David Dupont