This CD was recorded in November 1999, but released by Boxholder Records almost two years later. By mid-2001, trumpeter Greg Kelley was foraying deep into free improv of the lowercase kind. It came as something of a surprise to hear him in a much more extroverted quartet, playing with a sound closer to Herb Robertson than Axel Dörner. Even though this is saxophonist Paul Flaherty's project, both horns share the stage. The interaction between these two players is simply something to rave about. The instantaneous compositions they sculpt have a lot more melodic material than what can be heard elsewhere, without resorting to more standard jazz tricks. Sadly, the rhythm section of John Voigt (bass) and Laurence Cook (drums) is a lot less participative. Both stick to an immutable free jazz frame, filling space when the two horns stop, retracting when they resume playing. They develop patterns with each other, but rarely interact with the quartet's other half. There is still much to enjoy on The Ilya Tree. Highlights include the fire music-tinged "Glimmer of Hope," the 18-minute "Space in Which We Live," which includes Voigt's best playing in this session, and the more opened, atmospheric "Dragon in the Sand."
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AllMusic Review by François Couture