Pianist Ban and baritone saxman Harding put together an outstanding unit consisting of selves plus tenorist dynamo J.D. Allen, tuba stalwart Bob Stewart and weighty drummer Derrek Phillips. Lucian wrote and arranged all but one number; Alex handled one of his own.
What is striking about the music is the level of performance throughout, which is high. Bob Stewart always is a pleasure to hear in a rhythm team role and he adds great strength to ensemble passages. Phillips breathes drummer's fire to get the band moving. Harding and Allen make an excellent solo front line and Ban adds to it as well. Their collective onslaughts have a Mingusian Blues & Roots coherence and burning consistency. Individually they are formidable as well.
The excellence and execution of the compositions-arrangements put this session in a class of high distinction. It is a model of some good ideas put into play with soul. And the CD sounds just terrific, the bottom rich and nuanced, mids and highs crisp and well balanced.
In short everything was right on this one. It may be a bit of a sleeper but you should take the trouble to seek it out while you can. Many stars for this one, if I gave out stars.