Trumpeter Chad McCullough has worked extensively with Slovakian pianist Michal Vanoucek, leading to this studio collaboration. Their music resists labeling due to its wide scope. Accompanied by alto saxophonist Mark Taylor, bassist Dave Captein, and drummer Matt Jorgenson, the co-leaders contributed five originals each for this session. The trumpeter's rambunctious opener, "Where the Sky Cries," blends elements of samba and post-bop. But the CD quickly changes course with McCullough's infectious "Urban Grassland," which is built upon a simple four-note riff into a swaggering, hip post-bop vehicle, featuring delightful unison lines of trumpet and alto sax along with fine solos all around. Vanoucek's dramatic ballad "Blue in Breed" has a brooding air, showcasing McCullough's held notes and Captein's intricate solo. McCullough switches to flügelhorn for the pianist's surprising "Katia," which begins as a gorgeous ballad but detours into free jazz territory in the core of the piece. The Sky Cries
reveals new facets with each hearing; hopefully, this partnership will continue with future recorded meetings.