Pianist Chris Parker wrote all ten compositions on Late in Lisbon, incorporating a contemporary sounding ╚lan with high ended sonic textures provided by violinist Rob Thomas and saxist Peter Epstein on alto & soprano. The latter two have finely honed chops with untraceable sonic personalities, giving the date its singular aural character. The record manages to swing from a Latinized jam opener ˝where everyone but anchorman Tony Marino solos his things around˝ to hipsting and stuffing the bottom in "The Chimney," where Parker makes you pay attention to the piano. And you do listen, and it's fun.
Epstein is lucid on alto and Marino's acoustic bass playing wins the ribbon here, as well as throughout the rest of the production, particularly in the urban-sounding slow piece "Night Song." The Brazilian-coded piece "The Return" surges with pulsing electric bass lines striving forward towards an unexpected percussive conclusion with increasing freedom and abandon. "Under the Bridge" also inspires Brazilian memories, although Parker guides one's remembrances through his refashioning of well known melodic and percussive devices, edging Epstein on ˝not that he needs much help when altoing like that!
The funky "The Long Way Around" is sandwiched among a closing mid-tempo closing section with "Late in Lisbon" and "The Thought of Seeing You." Both highlight the participants within more relaxed settings, better breathing space among their phrases and welcome melodic gradations. "Night Song" slows the tempo even more, gaining feeling and expressiveness in the process. "There's Been A Slight Change Of Plans" and "Passage" are further evidence of this group's linguistic ability. In the first, the drummers are essential; in the closer, we are reminded how important violinist Rob Thomas has been on the record.