|Playing at Cheltenham a few years ago, this international quartet featuring the pensive and vaporous but tonally expressive alto sax of the UK's Martin Speake with Swedish piano star Bobo Stenson, British bassist Mick Hutton and former Bill Evans/Keith Jarrett drummer Paul Motian, sounded like an occasional encounter that deserved sustenance. ECM Records picked up on it, though this 2002 recording has been a long time in the pipeline.
True to Speake's and Stenson's predilections for songlike, lyrical and unhurried playing, this is predominantly a wistful, yearning session with only an occasional diversion into a gallop, notably on the scurrying Barefaced Thieves. But Speake's tonal subtlety on long notes has an eventfulness of its own, and Motian can impart more rhythmic variety to slow music than almost any other drummer alive. The soft flow of Stenson's playing on Change of Heart over Mick Hutton's resonant, Charlie Haden-like bass, Speake's mix of alertness and receptive stillness, and Motian's masterly percussion add up to a distinctive - if somewhat late-night, low-lights - set. - The Guardian