The bass clarinet makes it for me. Hazar deserves mad praise first for his virtuosity on the saz (a lute-like Persian instrument), then for switching over to acoustic guitar and tearing it up down a different highway. But that bass clarinet—played by Piotr Torunski on several cuts here, showcasing its lower-range woodsy burble—dovetails so tastily with Hazar’s always-fancy flights.
The album’s much-touted binaural stereo, at least on the CD, isn’t nearly so freaky as my previous bouts with such things, although sounds, burbly and otherwise, can occasionally wrap around the inside of my head. Al Di Meola’s heavily hyped guest spot turns out to be a pleasantly modest surprise; the guest doubles on cajón for certain passages, but he and Hazar also take turns fluttering downward to the already-fluttering notes of Chick Corea’s “Spain.”
“Donna Lee” manifests the steeplechase Charlie Parker had in mind, but with an offhanded piano part by Mike Roelofs and distant percussion by Mehmet Akatay, suggesting an after-hours jam over smoky bourbon. “Summertime” finds all four players—Hazar, Roelofs, Akatay, and Torunski—flying apart from each other to the four corners of the mix, tossing each other musical compliments and a few jokes. Listen to this one on headphones for the full effect. You’ll need it for the mix. But you’ll stay for the human intricacy.