Lantner, who is influenced by Thelonious Monk, Schoenberg, Webern and Milton Babbit, and Mat have been playing together since 1987. Most of their music on Reaching doesn't have a tone center, although their free improvisation will occasionally fall into a pedal point. They try to make individual selections distinct by virtue of at least one previously agreed upon element, like meter or mood, and also try to maintain the integrity and cohesiveness of the starting material. For example, "No Other" has a ballad feeling, "Waltzing," as its title suggests, is in 3/4 time and "Old Style" has a fugal quality.
Lantner employs a digital electric piano, allowing him to bend pitches and use microtones, and an acoustic piano simultaneously. Lantner gets a full, warm sound from his instrument partly by keeping his hands on the keys and pressing them rather than striking them. Lantner plays economically and linearly, while Mat improvises agilely over and around him, using angular lines and playing short bursts of notes that hint at his prodigious technique.