Bassist Radding's work is heavily jazz-influenced, but as the album's title suggests, he's interested in negotiating gray areas where idioms overlap. The bassist's set with vibist Matt Moran and clarinetist Oscar Noriega combines nontonal methods of composition with a chamber-jazz sensibility. While improvisation plays an important part, Radding's serialesque, largely contrapuntal tunes define the mood. An absence of drums serves to highlight melody; Radding occasionally plays a timekeeping role, but more often he's a melodic partner with Moran and Noriega. Moran's presence lends the music a MJQ feel. He's a sensitive, resourceful player, with a good ear for space and timbral contrast.
Noriega phrases like a free-jazz player, but his lines defy categorization. Not bluesy but plenty expressive, he combines a classical player's chops and regard for dynamics with a free jazzer's rhythmic flexibility. Radding doesn't have monster chops, but they're plenty adequate; he works within the bounds of his ability with taste and good sense. His dark, unfalteringly acoustic tone is a particular strength. So is his rigorous approach to composition. This is complex and demanding music, executed with grace and precision.