Taken from a pair of music festival recordings produced by NPS Radio, Netherlands, this album presents Helias’ well-rounded avant garde quartet. The bassist’s compositions and the group’s performances convey a balance between structure and freedom, thoughtful design and flat-out blowing. The music often swings, but within this feeling is a sense of metric elasticity. If the soloist or the front line (tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, violinist Mark Feldman) puts a little squiggle (or a permanent deformation) in the time, Helias and drummer Mike Sarin or Tom Rainey can either go with the flow or hold the center. In either case, the music never descends to a tug-of-war or chaotic stage.
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.