Unhinged Sextet sounds like many things—for example: swinging, cohesive, hot—but "unhinged" is not one of them. The group is a collaborative brought together by long-standing mutual associations, but they had never played together until gathering in Arizona to rehearse and record this album. Clearly their belief that they would work well together was borne out by the results: I defy anyone to think this was a first time session after hearing it. The program is all originals, with everyone except drummer Dom Moio contributing at least one tune.
The opener "Unhinged" could be the group's signature: a Latin flavored hard bop burner with all of the players fired up. Kocour contributes a bit of outside piano, which is about as unhinged as the session gets. "Far From East" changes the group dynamic with a theme that employs a dialog between tenor saxophonist Matt Olson and trumpeter Vern Sielert, with ensemble commentary. "Watch Out Of The Way" gives drummer Moio some space, featuring a sax/drum duet and a (short, tasteful) drum solo. The title tune was written by bassist Jon Hamar, but features the trumpet. Trumpeter Sielert returns the favor by writing one of the album's most distinctive bass lines on "Derecho."
The song list continues with the tenor sax feature "Too Deep" (written by Kocour), the ballad "Leaving Soon" from the pen of alto saxophonist Will Campbell, and "Las Palmas," which includes a bass solo. The album ends on a high note with Kocour's "Squiggles," which surely recalls Thelonious Monk, without being at all derivative. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's a first-class collection of modern jazz, with strong playing and exciting, varied original compositions.