Personnel: Ralph Bowen (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Jim Ridl (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Kenny Davis (acoustic bass); Adam Cruz (drums).
Audio Mixers: Mike Marciano; Anthony Branker.
Liner Note Author: Victor L. Schermer.
Recording information: Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY (04/05/2011).
Arranger: Anthony Branker.
On his recorded output, Anthony Branker has shown consistent growth as a composer/arranger working with small groups. For this session he is musical director for a quartet featuring several veterans of earlier recordings, including saxophonist Ralph Bowen, bassist Kenny Davis, and drummer Adam Cruz, adding pianist Jim Ridl. Branker's writing style isn't easy to classify, as he fits equally into post-bop and modern creative, while his skills composing ballads also merit praise. The infectious, spirited "Ancestral Tales" seems like an African walking song, with its delightful polyrhythms and formidable solos by Bowen (on soprano) and Ridl. The pianist opens "Land of Milk and Honey" with an impressionistic solo suggesting a pastoral setting, with the mood turning to a loping jazz waltz as Bowen enters on his majestic tenor sax. "Skirting the Issue" features Ridl switching to Fender Rhodes and Bowen back on soprano, interpreting the insistent, funky work with a deft touch. "The Selfless Soul" is a lush ballad showcase for Bowen on tenor, with subtle backing by the rhythm section. "Dance of the Aesthetics" builds upon a repeated motif, featuring Bowen's energetic soprano backed by Davis and Cruz playing a lively African rhythm. Highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden