There are two Bud Powell compositions on this album, polar opposites. “Buster Rides Again” is a simple, archetypal (albeit 16-bar) blues. The title track is the most unusual piece Powell ever wrote, a four-part miniature suite, densely impressionistic and ambiguous, lacking normal openings for improvisation. “Glass Enclosure” is usually characterized as Powell’s musical corollary for the isolation of mental illness. Rob Schneiderman boldly chooses to use its polytonal angularity for improvisation. He stays within the song’s dark atmosphere, and illuminates what has always been so unsettling about “Glass Enclosure”: In the illogic of its transitions, it chillingly evokes how it feels when the rational world is just out of reach.
The other highlight of this album is a duo performance of “Embraceable You” with Charles McPherson, whose alto saxophone sound ranges from blindingly bright to darkly rasping. On this occasion, McPherson is not especially interested in the song’s sweet invitation. He is all bluster, and he lavishes embellishments in torrents that overflow the vessel of “Embraceable You,” while Schneiderman, the voice of reason, tries to prevent a flood.