Any group that has been together as long as it has will be thinking and breathing cohesively.
This is a top-level extraordinary group.
Sphere is a finely-calibrated timepiece-with a soul.
«…then came the triumph on Red Records, Sphere on Tour, recorded in Bologna, Italy in 1985 and released in 1986. It was deemed a powerful enough statement to be named “Disc of the Week” by the New York Times».
«Sphere was the middle name of Thelonious Monk, and the quartet founded by Charlie Rouse and Ben Riley who had collaborated with him, was born precisely as an explicit homage to his music, (…). Over time, things changed: the four musicians tried to go beyond the limits of ‘re-reading’ and to expand their repertoire with new pieces, characterized however by certain sounds, certain rhythms, certain ‘colors’. On paper, the protagonist of the operation, which by now has few commemorative and revivalist elements, would seem Charlie Rouse who spent more than ten years alongside Thelonious and deeply absorbed his lesson. His essential phrasing, proposed with a ‘staccato’ that never leaves the medium-high register, recalls the teacher quite well. Meanwhile, Ben Riley, the other founding partner of the quartet, is a superb drummer who deserves a greater reputation for his fine musicality and above all for his brushwork brought to mastery levels. And then the magnificent pianist Kenny Barron and the mighty double bass player Buster Williams, who are much more than a couple of added elements. To begin with, they are the authors of most of the original pieces included in the repertoire (Dual Force and Taymisha are by Williams, the excellent Spiral and Scratch are by Barron) and they have a role of harmonic ‘anchor’ that is decisive for the stylistic code of the group. In this highly recommendable album, it is precisely the trio of the rhythm section (one of the most enthralling that jazz has today) to choose the route, bop in matrix and safely winding its way between high-class solo episodes and parts that firmly fir together».
Salvatore G. Biamonte
«This is a top-level extraordinary group.
Sphere is a finely-calibrated timepiece-with a soul».
«In this recording that re-proposes part of the concert given at the Perugia festival on July 14th, 1986, we find all original songs of the group of the three Williams: the blues Tokudo, and two ‘Kinderszenen’, i.e. the delicate Christina, portrait of a young niece (it’s the only song already known, through the Timeless All Stars), and the dramatic Deceptakon, inspired by a fantasy kid show. Saud’s Song is instead Barron’s, dedicated to the Muslim name (and African American music) of McCoy Tyner. Beyond the highly accurate and varied thematic content, there is also the great quality of soloists engaged in elaborating it: Rouse with his sax which at times accentuates the phrases in a Monkian conciseness; Barron who proves himself today, inside and outside the Sphere, to be one of the most subtle harmonic and rhythmic pianists; Williams with his marked and flowing lines (and the Tokudo solo is perfect); Riley with the powerful impulse and the refined brushwork. Forty-three minutes really well spent by musicians and listeners». Sphere Live At Umbria Jazz
Gian Mario Maletto, Musica Jazz