In listening to this music -- four Gordon Brisker originals, one song apiece from pianists Mike Nock and Bill Cunliffe, an obscurity, and a reharmonized "I Got Rhythm" -- it is difficult not to think of the mid-'60s Miles Davis Quintet in spots. Tenor saxophonist Brisker actually sounds closer to John Coltrane than Wayne Shorter, and trumpeter Tim Hagans has more power than Miles Davis did, but the complexity of the music and the democratic nature of the rhythm section's role point toward that classic group. Although there are many capable solos from Brisker, Hagans and pianist Marc Copland, with alert support from bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, the music is quite dry and sometimes rather dull. Even "These Are the Jokes" sounds a bit dreary. The originals are generally complex without including any real innovations; the solos (although following the tricky chord changes) have little to do with the themes, and one comes away from this date respecting rather than loving the music.
The Gift Review
by Scott Yanow