Things just seem to sizzle when piano player David Torkanowsky is around. Perhaps it is his dramatic, dark looks, the gift of a German composer father and a flamenco dancer mother. Perhaps it is just his raw talent coupled with experience in the clubs of New Orleans. Whatever the reason, the music explodes on this CD, which is a gem for anyone who is a fan of the group, Astral Project, of which Torkanowsky is a member. Astral Project is the most revered contemporary jazz group in New Orleans. Torkanowsky is joined by the group's bass player, James Singleton, its extraordinary drummer, Johnny Vidacovich, and guitarist Steve Masakowski. Only the ensemble's saxophonist, Tony Dagradi, is missing. Ably standing in on saxophone is Rick Margitza, a veteran player with the likes of Ellis Marsalis. Also contributing are premier musicians Bill Huntington on bass, Donald Byrd on trumpet and flügelhorn, and Herlin Riley on drums. Together, they capture the New Orleans sensibility, backing Torkanowsky as he moves with breathtaking speed from an out-there riff to a clever reference to a classical music composition. Many of the tunes are written by members of the musical aggregation. Notable among them are Torkanowsky's title cut composition, along with "Melody for Jaco." The group steps out on the Margitza/Torkanowsky collaboration, "Big Grease," and they bring it on home with Margitza's "Dance Farewell."
AllMusic Review by Rose of Sharon Witmer