It's not terribly common to hear a trumpeter in a trio setting with bass and drums -- tenor saxophone, guitar, and piano are the historical favorites. On his second SteepleChase release, Dave Ballou bucks the trend, offering an intense and often reflective trio set in the company of bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Jeff Williams. Ballou continues to nourish an avant-garde sensibility throughout this free-leaning yet entirely cohesive dialogue. Like on his debut, he switches between open trumpet, flugelhorn, and muted textures to establish varied moods. Seven original compositions include the rubato reveries "Snow on Cedar" and "Deni Time" and the red-hot yet wildly different swing tempos of "Snagahmit" and "Skeptical," the latter featuring an astounding solo by Brown. Ballou also tackles John Coltrane's "26-2" in a trumpet/drum duo with Williams, plays the obscure Thelonious Monk gem "Light Blue" with muted horn, and closes the set with a lively reading of Booker Little's "Opening Statement." He is a trumpeter with enormous technique and melodic imagination, and an important emerging voice in the music.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler