Drummer Ted Sirota's debut CD with his Rebel Souls quartet displays his passion for the avant garde of the '60s (e.g., Ornette Coleman and his sidemen). This is not so much a free jazz as a free bop excursion, with melodies played by tenor saxophonist Kevin Kizer, and obtuse, angular lines from electric guitarist Jeff Parker. Bassist Jeff Hill is unspectacular, but plays a good part in backing the others. There's a great version of Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners," with all the downtempo to uptempo changes, haunting impressions, and bop sonorities of the original. Guitar and tenor team for the unison lines, and there's an easy swinging blues bridge. Sonny Rollins' "East Broadway Rundown" is taken at a hip-hop funk clip, with Charlie Haden's "First Song" played in reverent, somber tones, while the more obscure Coleman piece "WRU" has the tricky angular changes played very faithfully, with hard bop incursions added for good measure. Of the originals, Sirota's "Song for Mumia" smacks of Old & New Dreams in a 6/8 Yoruban flavor, with barking tenor, guitar, and tenor talkback, and the leader's drum solo reflective of Ed Blackwell's signature mannerisms, especially on tom-toms. Parker's moodiness comes out straightforward for the soulful free bopper "Four Folks," with bass ostinato buoying everyone's solos and enforcing a fragmented melody. Kizer's writing adopts a seismologic needle jumping phrase on "Ornettish," while "Voids" hits a waltzing ballad pace after a totally chaotic intro. There's some very strong music being played here by a group that has no intention of playing it safe.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos