An initial three note-based riff sets the stage for pensive improvisations. This strong opening of the new quartet album by John Wojciechowski (Wojo) introduces a Chicago post-bop ensemble with a couple familiar jazz tunes and much of their own material. What follows is an absorbing, intriguing, and mysterious abstract statement by tom-toms in Dana Hall's drum solo (with a quote from A Love Supreme
). After this "Call of the Kingdom," the track "Summon The Elders" continues the drama with dark energy and Coltrane in mind. Pianist and Rhodes keyboardist Ryan Cohan has a nice solo in "Ternary," and in the piece "Elegy," written after the death of Wojo's father, his improvisation is elegant and expansive. Bassist Dennis Carroll has his solo in the final track, an adaptation of Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." Aptly titled "Twirl," with its dancing 3/4 beat, the track is spun by Wojciechowski, who has a somewhat reedy but confidently vigorous saxophone voice (soprano, alto, tenor). Monk's angular "Evidence" continues in the ballroom with a Cuban tinge. "The Divided Man" has two sections, reflecting Wojciechowski's two worlds as high school music teacher [lucky students!] and jazz club denizen. It bounces cheerfully. I must admit that it took a second listening and finally a third of the entire album until I gained full appreciation of this ensemble and arrangements. In such complex music, it is good to find new aspects with each repetition. The penultimate work is, relatedly, "The Listener." Here, saxophone offers the thematic phrase and variations ensue, a classical and academic approach. This is a muscular album with flurries of notes in enticing original musical phrases. It stands tall.