The Wide Hive Players are a loose-knit group of Bay Area jazzmen centered around Wide Hive Records label founder and organist Gregory Howe and his composing partner, pianist and bassist Matt Montgomery. The other members of the group for this set are guitar ace Calvin Keys, saxophonist Doug Rowan, trombonist Mike Rinta, and drummers Thomas McCree and Josh Jones. Though Turnstyle is played by a fluid group, it doesn't sound like one. These ten tunes are firmly rooted in progressive jazz-funk, though sophisticated post-bop and reggae enter into the picture as well -- think Johnny Pate conducting a CTI-era sextet with charts written by Oliver Nelson and Gerald Wilson. There is a dark soundtrack feel to opener "All the Right Wrong Notes," with its ringing piano chords atop slow, fat horns (across the set they were arranged by Rowan and Rinta) that move from the nearly inquisitive to something altogether more soulful, with a subtle yet funky backbeat. The title track, with Keys' guitar and Montgomery's bass up-front, utilizes driving, bluesy funk offset by a moodier, edgier, more sinister vibe as Howe's Rhodes comes right through the middle. When the horns enter, they are almost dubwise! "Suddenly Overcast" is progressive soul-jazz at its best, with Keys extrapolating arpeggios inside the horn vamps; the groove is subtle yet dynamically rich in texture. The fat bassline on "Winding Up" is another dub-like construction, but with the Rhodes and guitar, it's more multi-dimensional; the groove is implicit but constant. Just as the listener settles in for the ride, the horns deliver a warm, open, swinging melody underscored by funky drum breaks. "Stacking Wax" is a stone killer, with an extrapolated, wide-spectrum horn chart, a gritty B-3, and Keys' guitar heroics. Another remarkable thing about Turnstyle is the sequencing; its grooves are so plentiful, its harmonic imagination so rich, and its playing so elegant and lockstep, you can listen to it in virtually any order and come up with the same glorious result.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek