This trio of avant-garde vets-saxophonist Oliver Lake, drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Reggie Workman-approach Open Ideas with the all-business attitude of guys who obviously have been there, which can be both bad and good.
The CD reflects Trio 3's self-confidence and experience as it opens with three off-center choices-a spoken-word piece, a cover (Mal Waldron's "Hooray for Herbie") and a free improv-before it hits bread-and-butter time. That's not to say that the opening numbers should be passed over. One of the album's better moments comes with a satisfying run-through of the Waldron tune. But "Casino," an odd spoken-word piece about a gambling addiction, feels out of place and can be safely skipped.
The rest of Open Ideas is nothing but concise, driving postbop edged with free improv that's sometimes inspired, sometimes overly professional. When the group's business sense runs to the no-nonsense variety they turn up tight little tunes like Lake's slow-burn "Valley Sketch" and Workman's moody "Willow Song." But when the band rests on its well-earned laurels, as on the lackluster "5-4-3-2," the group just ticks along without raising a spark.