Once again the Seattle-based trio New Stories hits pay dirt with the follow-up to its first release, Circled By Hounds. Helped along by significant contributions from several guests, pianist Marc Seales, bassist Doug Miller, and drummer John Bishop settle on a play list of jazz classics and original material. Recalling the modal music days of the 1950s and especially beyond, the kickoff tune, "Prince of Darkness," sets a high standard for the session with Hans Teuber's sax the foil against which the craggy harmonies of the trio are contrasted. The group gives Miles Davis' "Circle" a definitely soulful rendering, this time with the tenor of Rick Mandyck providing the spiritual center, with major efforts by Seales' piano and the rhapsodic pizzicato bass of Doug Miller. This track is small-group virtuosity at its best. Improvisational skills matched with unabashed ballad romanticism end the album with "Deep in a Dream." The soprano sax of veteran Don Lanphere is the highlight of this track, as Seales comps gently underneath. Another fine track. The group plays with an introspective style, nothing very fast (except for a hard-driving "One-Finger Snap"), trivial, or shallow. Instead, deep thoughtfulness permeates each tune. This approach to the music might be classified small-club jazz, where a combo is playing for a small but knowledgeable audience of jazz fans, who hang on each note and who appreciate the subtle but definite presence of the interplay among those providing the music. It's a place where pieces by Wayne Shorter, Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul seem to be most at home. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan