Guitarist Rik Wright has with his quintet waxed a moody, often brilliant CD which does approach the loose-limbed tunefulness of some of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi albums (CROSSING, SEXTANT, et al).
The general instrumentation is more acoustic but there is a similar attitude of open-minded funk outfitted with doors which occasionally drift open to let the universe in. No mushrooms were harmed in the writing of this review, but somehow, much as in the best early experimental jazz forms developed after Miles Davis' BITCHES BREW came out, ISOMORPHISM takes its place among some of the better efforts of that and this era.
The band will open a tune such as "Speaking In Tongues," with Reuben Radding buzzing and weaving his bass through a forest of sparkling Wright guitar note pinpoints, only to open onto a bouncing earthy groove in which trumpeter Tony Grasso seems bound and determined to backwash against the rest of the group until they change direction. Wright surfaces to oppose him and it's a tug-o-war! "Swimming Inside" pits a minor nod to Robert Fripp against a slow avalanche of sonic driftwood. And the closing "Minor You" (at a higher rate than the opening version) brings together a group of disparate voices all pulling towards different realities (forget mere 'directions') and makes a slow-simmering whole of them. Kudos to Dan Blunck's intimate sax tone; he always appears to be whispering something urgent in your ear. Jim Knodle, Fred Roth and Simon Grant assist in powering up this tune while Randy Doak wittily minds the drum kit the rest of the time.
This CD is like the weather in Chicago: if you don't like it right off, just wait a few minutes. Well worth it.
by Ken Egbert
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