Bassist Joris Teepe's approach to a modern big-band sound is based on heavily laden notes with layered charts that jump up before you and scream -- pay attention! They are at times loud and brash, or cerebral and deep, but they are of a commanding and extremely intelligent design -- enough to hold a unique quality as compared to other similar groups. It could well be proffered that Teepe's background growing up in the Netherlands, and living in New York City since 1992, identifies both the progressive baseline and mean-streets edginess that balance the two-sided voicings you hear. Seventeen pieces strong, Teepe has recruited some seasoned musicians like trumpeters Michael Mossman and John Eckert, trombonist Earl McIntyre, saxophonists Don Braden, Peter Brainin, Adam Kolker, Craig Bailey, and slightly younger players like the rising star baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall, guitarist Bruce Arnold, drummer Gene Jackson, and the fabulous veteran but underground pianist Jon Davis. The talent level is very high, charts are read to strictest tolerances, and the music leaps out of the speakers, grabs your ears, and twists them. "Flight 643" establishes this style in dense bop phrasings with hard accents in oddly hued, ominous, and relentless shout-outs. The more overt bop rhythms of the title track move straight forward as the rhythm section, featuring the truly impressive pianist Davis, sets up a circular melody building in intensity with so many notes and solos, especially from the baritone of Marshall. Clearly inspired by Charles Mingus, Teepe leads out on the lengthy "The Princess & the Monster," with fluttering horns and low-end woodwinds, bluesy in its contrasting beauty/beast mentality, and a trilled solo from Braden. In a Sun Ra space mood, "Almost Lucky" has a diffuse, swelling style via Arnold, lofty choral and singing, with a Teepe solo and riveting drum work from guest Rashied Ali. There are calmer, cleaner, and happy pieces, like "It Is Peculiar" which sounds like it came from the Thad Jones or Frank Foster composition book of Count Basie, while the ballad waltz "Peace on Earth" does not stand still, forcing the issue with funky beats, wah-wah guitar from Arnold, clarinets, flutes, and barking brass offering intriguing contrasts before settling into bop. The diversity of Teepe's concepts should startle and amaze listeners from beginning to end, but listen to this recording again and again, as it reveals the music you might not have heard the first or second time around. A truly exceptional recording, and one that comes highly recommend, it should also be one Joris Teepe and his talented crew should share in superlative pride of what they have accomplished.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos