This jazz CD begins with the exotic underwater sound of a doombek -- in a tribute to Duke Ellington, no less. In addition to "Edward K," many of the tracks here contain intriguing melodic and rhythmic variations. "Invitation," the high point of the disc, begins with a reggae beat, then cracks open and flies straight-ahead. Laurent De Wilde, who wrote an award-winning biography of Thelonius Monk, shows his admiration for him in his rollicking version of Charlie Parker's "Relaxing at Camarillo," his own explicitly Monk-ish "Tune for T," and his respectful and tender reading of "'Round Midnight." Backed by the top-drawer duo of Ira Coleman on bass and Dion Parsons on drums, who were Monty Alexander's rhythm section for years, De Wilde also brought in master percussionist Bobby Thomas to add additional texture and the element of surprise. De Wilde's "Spoon-a-Rhythm" is a good example of how well this works. Surprise is also a feature of "Live & Dyrek," where the group plays with the changes of "Old Devil Moon." A passionate, strong player and fine composer, De Wilde also supplies two pensive tunes, the haunting "Totem" and the elegiac waltz "So Long Barney" that closes the set -- or almost, except for an unexpected, snappy little coda at the end. This CD has a fresh, distinctive sound and a joyful, adventurous spirit.
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AllMusic Review by Judith Schlesinger