Free Range Rat features John Carlson, trumpet; Eric Hipp, tenor sax; Shawn McGloin, bass; and Scott Neumann, drums. The program includes Ellington’s “African Flower,” four Sun Ra tunes, and original writing from Carlson and Hipp. Broadly speaking, the quartet’s approach here is like early Ornette or Don Cherry groups: the rhythm team keep a solid swing going while the horns play freely over the top. It’s a formula that’s no longer earth-shaking, but for free-form fans interested in music, not formulae, this enthusiastic group will be a pleasant surprise.
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