Bennington has assembled a crew of thoughtful, restrained, and talented players to generate music that reminded me alot of Tony Williams' excellent early Blue Note records Spring and Lifetime. Paynter, who wrote many of these tunes, speaks in elliptical phrases and favors episodic compositions which leave players alone in the spotlight for long durations (particularly so on the sparce opening trio track). His "Two Fascinations" sets up an interesting space for the fine trombonist Melville (who ironically doesn't play on the Albert Mangelsdorff tune 'Street Of Loneliness", which Paynter handles well, his grainy melancholy blending nicely into Bennington's wash of cymbals).
The long version of Coltrane's "Equinox" is the centerpiece of the album, and the best place to study the leaders style. He plays with a lot of imagination, revealing,to my ears,the influence of Paul Motian (in the way he implies pulse in frequently abstract ways),Tony Williams (in his ability to frame and reposition the other players, particularly Paynter during his long aching tenor spot, in any number of ways), and Ed Blackwell (in his attention to tone). Only after his compelling solo do the horns state the theme. The long, drone based piece "Ganges" isn't quite so arresting and the concluding track is pretty unaffecting. Neither the style or the arrangements are entirely new, but this is very well done stuff that will please fans of abstract modern mainstream.