Ben Goldberg returns after a seven-year absence from recording with one for Steve Lacy. Goldberg wrote the music in 2004 when he came to know that the soprano saxophonist had cancer. The album was recorded three days after Lacy died.
Lacy's "Blinks" is in a state of constant flux. Goldberg's clarinet breaks up the lines, but the piece becomes volatile and churns relentlessly when violinist Carla Kihlstedt bows in. With bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Ches Smith roiling beneath, this track nails attention. Goldberg bases some of the other tunes on "Blinks," but apart from that, his writing reflects a willingness to take chances. The way he sets up "Long Last Moment" is a case in point. Hoff lays the path, his bass ruminating and moving with deliberation before the emphasis shifts to ensemble playing between the violin and the clarinet, the voicing dissipating into odd lines of counterpoint.
"Song and Dance," a high, energetic outing that dances and flexes the beat, offers a different atmosphere. Rob Sudduth rides out on the tenor saxophone with a rather brawny, but happy statement before Goldberg brings in a lighter, sparkling variation. That is one happy tune! However, some of the strongest moments come in the closing "Cortege." The title tells its story, and the band opens the vent of emotion in a passionate, but never overwhelming, performance. This heart and soul of this piece makes a perfect end to a record that is consistently compelling in the scope of its ideas and the playing of the musicians.