Bill McHenry first emerged as one of the regulars at the Manhattan night spot Smalls and has gone on to become a promising player, whether the tenor saxophonist is a sideman or leading his own group. McHenry isn't one whose style or sound is easy to describe, as he is constantly experimenting. These intriguing sessions feature several of his regular collaborators, including guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Paul Motian; the music avoids predictability and even the song titles don't necessarily provide much of a hint as to the direction of the compositions. Aside from two collaborative efforts by all four musicians, the mysterious "'The Abyss Opens Up" and the tense "The City" (the latter which is dominated by Monder's menacing guitar) everything else was written by the leader. "The New One" is as close as McHenry gets to a ballad, though its loping, stop and go format is atypical. Roses is an edgy release that takes several hearings to reveal its inner beauty, so don't be intimidated by its surface complexity.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden