This split two group disc was recorded live in January of 2007 and both groups share a couple of members. All members of both groups except for drummer Nori Tanaka can be found on previous discs that we've listed from various Chicago area outfits. The Josh Berman Group features Josh on trumpet & compositions (CD on Demark), Keefe Jackson on tenor sax & bass clarinet (also on Delmark), Jason Adasiewicz on vibes (Cuneiform CD), Anton Hatwich on bass (self-produced discs) and Nori Tanaka on drums. The instrumentation for this quintet is similar to Eric Dolphy's 'Out to Lunch' album except that Keefe Jackson plays tenor instead of alto sax. The sound is similar as well, except that this session is more occasionally more laid back but adventurous in other ways. Mr. Berman takes some great solos while the rest of the quintet spin tightly around him, accelerating organically and weaving a tight web of rhythm. Josh writes quirky tunes which go through a series of odd changes in direction. During "On Account of a Hat", the quintet is broken into interconnected subsections, the horns going one way while the vibes/bass/drums go another way, yet somehow they all remain connected.

The Keefe Jackson's Quartet features Keefe on tenor & bass clarinet, Jeb Bishop on trombone, Jsaon Robke on bass & Nori Tanaka on drums. This group is even more intense and filled with steam & bluster. It is great to hear Jeb Bishop, who was once a member of the Vandermark 5 wailing again. The frontline with Keefe on tenor & Jeb on trombone sounds great with creative, tight rhythm team to back them up. What's interesting about this quartet is the way they deal with textures and structures. On "Since Then" the rhythm section sizzles while the bass clarinet and trombone play tense drones. Solos by both horns are consistently powerful and often soaring on high. Closing out with "Put My Finger on It", the theme is infectious, with long spirited solos from all members and intricate, ever-shifting playing form the bass and drums. Even though there are two bands here, the shared members and creative thread makes this disc superb from the beginning to the end.

—Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

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