It's amazing that it took four years for this recording to be released, but Rosenwinkel is an amazing guitarist whose ideas and concepts don't fall into easily pigeonholed or definable terms. His compositions feature complex, brightly colored melodies strung together. As an original, inventive stylist, he's closest to latter-period Pat Martino or early Pat Metheny, but as a sound sculptor, his more electrified guitar resembles John Scofield. Equal partners in this journey are tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, bassist Ben Street and drummer Jeff Ballard. The lone non-Rosenwinkel composition, Kinsey's "Point of View," sports lightning-quick counterpoint between the front-line instrumentalists, leading to (not Nat "King" Cole's) "Christmas Song," a dense line that sounds like Santa at 4 a.m. busily dropping off presents and going to the next home. There's a delicate mimimalist piano section at the end with guitar and sax that unfortunately fades out. Acoustic guitar and the leader's voice is used in "The Polish Song," and there are two more intricate pieces in the hypnotic and alluring "#10" and "Dream of the Old"; the former has a bright 4/4 groove supporting a sax/guitar unison voice before some truly lush sampling and electric keyboard assimilations, the latter a diffident 3/4 mood with segregated and unequal factions of melody and harmony, Turner's busy sax contrasting Rosenwinkel and Kinsey's languid statements. A strong vamp sets up the title track as a vehicle for improv in a contemporary calypso rhythm, with piano and bass going at sax and electric guitar, while "Grant" is a funky, interplanetary 6/8 tune with keyboard thrusters launching Rosenwinkel's more legato electrified lines and complex countermelodies before each solo. Clever conceptually, "Cubism" breaks down the twelve major key signatures, one per measure, into beacons of light that come on and off in clarion fashion over a quick samba beat. There's a frantic melody on "Synthetics," and the final selection "Hope & Fear" with its Zen-like melodic technique, on and on with differently shaped phrases, firmly establishes Rosenwinkel's compositional concept and makes you want to listen to this recording over again. Though Rosenwinkel has previous CDs out (on the Criss Cross and Fresh Sound/New Talent labels), this is the one that establishes his individual voice as a composer, bandleader and player. It crosses many boundaries for what is called contemporary jazz, and can easily be recommended not only as an entry point, but a springboard for future high-octane efforts.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos