Chris Brubeck is a talented electric bassist and bass trombonist (and is excessively modest about his quite enjoyable piano playing), while Joel Brown is a superb technician on guitar and Peter "Madcat" Ruth is a free-spirited harmonica player who utilizes a dozen different instruments to obtain the sound he seeks; all three are fine singers as well. This release combines music from two 1999 concerts at Skidmore College and includes jazz, funk, blues, country, folk, and original works that mix elements from any combination of these forms of music, as well as others. The jazz tracks include a snappy "Take Five" and the hilarious "Unsquare Dance" (with zany lyrics written by Brubeck) with Brubeck on bass, while the wild polytonal "Polly" and the jazz classic "Blue Rondo a la Turk" feature Brubeck's impressive piano along with some tasty picking by Brown and delicious blues riffs by Ruth. Brubeck's nostalgic ballad "Now That the Children are Gone" also features his warm lead vocal and piano as well as an overdubbed bass trombone solo. Blues fans will enjoy the blazing run through "Crossroads," which mixes Brown's strong vocal and formidable guitar along with some sensational harmonica from Ruth; the trio's leisurely treatment of Jimmy Yancey's "How Long" best showcases the all-around gifts of the group. Brown contributed the lovely instrumental "Rock Stream Sunday" and the trio collaborated in the writing of the very funky "New Stew (Opus Two)" and the infectious mid-tempo blues "The Road to Thomasville." This boundary stretching CD should be investigated by anyone who enjoys great American music.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden