The four-star rating doesn't mean it's an imperishable masterpiece. It doesn't even mean I'm convinced by every moment Mark Buselli and Claude Sifferlen committed to tape on two dates at Aire Borne Studios here in 2002. What IS remarkable is how much that was the happy outcome of spontaneous creation, with minimal planning, holds up well. The four stars are for risks taken gracefully and adroitly, with pleasurable results for the listener.
The disc takes its title from one of the original pieces, a tribute to the great 20th-century Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. It's a Zen rock garden of a performance, full of graceful curves and a few bold features amid an understated landscape. Atmospheric, with passing dissonances, it also encompasses jaunty episodes that save it from sinking into a mystical soup.
Indeed, Buselli's flugelhorn and Sifferlen's piano never go maundering into fascination with their own creative impulses. In "My Ideal," one of two pop-standard ballads included, Sifferlen shows awareness of the distinction between sentiment and sentimentality -- and he hews to the former. The very slow tempo never sets Buselli and Sifferlen adrift: They allow the tune to unfold, putting space around their phrases, never striving to sound busy just because there's plenty of time.
Other highlights include the unforced gymnastics of Benny Golson's "Stablemates," the loping "Blullage," with an inventive lefthand emphasis in Siffelen's solo, the boisterous, compact "Syncretism" and the whimsical Valentine's Day card to Buselli's daughter, "Sophie."