Hearing this quartet bop their way through their own brand of modern jazz is like a cleanser for the overexposed mind, as the four players manage to create an ensemble-sized sound with a wealth of nuance and compositional thoughtfulness. The smoky title track encompasses a great deal of Stanley Maxwell's influences, with sultry female guest vocals, a brief flurry of hip-hop lyricism, and a tasteful, understated jazz backdrop. "Defragmenting" is a sophisticated tune that nicely displays the band's soft-handed approach, where less notes and a lighter touch prevail. Not to say that they don't have their "out" moments - "No Good Reason" briefly visits outer space, and "Highway Patrol" mines a visceral stretch of asphalt and comes up funky - but the overall tone is one of tasteful separation and group consideration rather than ferocious soloing and brain-splitting speed.
Their signature tune, "Mousetrap," which has garnered them a great deal of acclaim, is as engaging as any corporate-approved jazz being made today. The bass and drums are locked into a world of their own, visited by hovering sax lines that color the landscape with intricate lines. "Bono's Squandering" and "Gianormous" exhibit touches of afrobeat and world rhythms, and it's easy to hear the NYC-vicinity influence on the sneaky "Not Yet," which blends uptown fuzz with some downtown funk and stirs in some melodica for a cocktail that has a hint of MMW aftertaste. Stanley Maxwell might be relatively unknown, but their sublime style and scholarly skills should endear them to audiences looking for something more in music today.