Personnel: Paul McCandless (bass clarinet, oboe, English horn, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Art Lande (piano); Peter Barshay (double bass); Alan Hall (drums).
Leader and reed player Paul McCandless teams with pianist Art Lande, bassist Peter Barshay, and drummer Allen Hall on this excellent post-bop date. McCandless was a key component of the popular, long-running jazz fusion group Oregon, and the sense of openness and experimentation that characterized the best of that ensemble's work is here. As a musician (he is heard on several instruments here, most notably soprano saxophone) McCandless incorporates Indian and African motifs, elements of free jazz, and ambient colorings, yet his overall approach on SHAPESHIFTER is full of edge and vigor.
The chemistry within the quartet contributes to the exciting feel of the session; and this is particularly true of the rapport between McCandless and Lande, whose exchanges crackle and scintillate throughout. SHAPESHIFTER is aptly named--stylistically it ranges all over the map, encompassing blues, impressionistic idylls, avant clatter, and sinuous, soothing light jazz. There is a little something for everyone here, putting SHAPESHIFTER alongside the best of McCandless's work.