The Soccerball is a reunion of three jazz artists who have worked well together before. Martin Wind and Matt Wilson have been part of Bill Mays Trio CDs. Returning the kindness, Mays and Wind have appeared with Wind on one of his albums. Tenor sax player Peter Weniger is the newcomer, although Weniger and Wind were members of the Cologne Concert Band. Weniger brings a set of winning credentials, having nine CDs out as a leader as well as working with a large bag of jazz practitioners. The use of "Vs." in the title implies that this is a contest or confrontation. Not at all. The two main players collaborate on bringing out the best points of a play list dominated by originals by each of the four participants, with three non-original works added to bring familiarity to the session. Listen to Weniger's lyrical, Lester Young-like light-fingered tenor on "Garrigue," as the tenor sax man works atop Wind's favorable basslines. A modern take of Charlie Parker's "Ah-Leu-Cha/Scrapple From the Apple" allows all of the participants to express their special ideas within the framework established by Parker. For sheer rhapsodic pleasure, the group's treatment of "It Never Entered My Mind" takes the honor for the album, as Weniger's tenor soars over the melody line and Mays adds his usual amicable and energetic technique. The track also reveals their disposition to treat each piece with a certain amount of esteem, not letting things get unduly raucous or cacophonous. This CD offers more than 70 minutes of engaging jazz, mostly originals with improvisational ideas that stay within the bounds of the themes for each piece of music. Nothing earth-shattering here. Just good solid jazz musicianship.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan