This music is sometimes referred to as "chamber jazz" because of the complex, layered arrangements and the often-slow tempos. The characterization is not entirely accurate, though, as there are also instances of invigorating jazz in a post-bop style. Saxophonist Andy Laster called on his changing quintet, Hydra, and for this recording the group consists of an all-star cast. The most prominent soloist is trumpeter Herb Robertson, whose rubbery and pinched improvisations share the limelight with the leader. Also notable are Drew Gress' fine bass playing and Tom Rainey's drums. Laster shines most as a composer (he wrote and arranged all the pieces). As a performer, he splits his time between bari and alto saxophones, and is equally effective, if a touch mundane, on each. While a couple of the tracks meander, some of the pieces shine exquisitely and reflect an outstanding talent on the rise.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy