Recorded in 1990, this rare trio recording of partners in crime, pianist Paul Plimley and bassist Lisle Ellis with vanguard drummer Andrew Cyrille, seems like a trio made in heaven. And it almost is. Beginning with track one, a stunningly accurate version of Jimmy Lyons' "Good News Blues" (which had to be brought to the session by Cyrille, who played on the original recording), Plimley does an excellent turn in transposing the saxophonist's lead lines to the piano and filling them out with fat chords and slim rows of accompanying arpeggios played in full legato. On "When the Shuffle Party Begins," Plimley takes his turn playing a kind of stride piano with Ellis punching the accents, leaving Cyrille --who is too quiet in the mix -- to ride free and easy over the cymbals and snare. He seems to be only keeping time at the beginning of the track but then moves into active counterpoint with Ellis by the middle and Plimley himself near the end. With this going on, the track has an easy, bluesy swing despite the terrific improvisation happening. Also noteworthy is the Plimley/ Cyrille duet tune "Moon Over Sand." Here, a slow, methodical tom-tom rhythm is struck by Cyrille and barely traced over with ghostly chords in the high register from Plimley. Gradually the chords unwind into single-note lines and the rhythm becomes more pronounced and hypnotic, leading ever deeper into the track without offering a way out. Plimley is at his most lyrical here, displaying the pointillistic influence of Paul Bley. In sum, this trio delivered the goods, an album of solid composition and improvisation with excellent harmonic and melodic invention, not to mention true teamwork.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek