Three stunning tunes featuring some of the best improvisers in the world today, all of them written -- yes, written -- by trombonist Albert Mangelsdorf. Interestingly, with a band this diverse and dimensionally articulate, the composer has come up with a program addressing each of the band's particular strengths. The title track, clocking in at over 21 minutes, is a study in the spatial relationship of tonalities. Even so, with its slow unwinding passages -- and interesting interplay between Surman on baritone and Mangelsdorf -- there are intervals, which allow for the creation of alternate harmonies and timbral interjections in chromatic architecture. Pianist Eddy Louis, along with Pedersen, are largely responsible for keeping the slowly revolving beast moving, but they add true depth in microtones and chord voicings. "Triple Circle" is quintet jazz, pure and simple, with everybody playing the hard bop line. Pedersen's solo is of particular interest here, in that his pizzicato playing moves through all three registers and offers scalar blues attacks in each. Finally, "My Kind of Beauty" caps it all off with a pastoral, late-night into courtesy of the horns and Louis on organ. It's a shimmering ballad until almost five minutes in, when Surman begins playing the baritone in the upper register and makes it cry with loneliness and an outpouring of what can only be called amorous emotion. Just as he finishes his sojourn, Pedersen and Louis begin to pace off a blues and transform the number into a groove tune with room enough for every body in the slowly evolving mix of textures in the intervallic transition. Louis' own solo is light and airy, whispering itself along the changes until it shifts into a noirish piece of film music with Mangelsdorf's solo. It all ends on a groove in the backbeat somewhere, but not without making the listener smile. Room 1220 is a hell of a Mangelsdorf date to be sure, but this is once in a lifetime ensemble, and the recording proves it.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek