JazzTimes - 10/99, pp.92-3
"...plenty of improvisation on these selections, but it's blended seamlessly into the written pieces....uniformly laudable....One of Lake's best albums."
Oliver Lake: Oliver Lake; Kenyatta Beasley (trumpet); Donal Fox, Eileen Folson , Sandra Billingslea, Maxine Roach, Regina Carter , Ashley Horne, Belden Bullock, Neil Clarke.
Personnel: Oliver Lake (alto saxophone); Sandra Billingslea, Regina Carter , Ashley Horne (violin); Maxine Roach (viola); Eileen Folson (cello); Kenyata Beasley (trumpet); Donal Fox (piano); Belden Bullock (double bass); Neil Clarke (congas).
Liner Note Author: Richard Franklin.
Recording information: Bloomfield College Auditorium (07/10/1996-12/10/1996); Seltzer Sound Studio, NY (07/10/1996-12/10/1996); Waterfront Studios (07/10/1996-12/10/1996).
Photographer: Christopher Drukker.
This is a consistently fascinating set by altoist Oliver Lake's String Project. Best known for his exploratory flights, Lake is an underrated arranger/composer. For the unusual but consistently fascinating effort, he utilizes a string quartet (violinist Ashley Horne and Sandra Billingslea, Ashley Horne on viola, and cellist Eileen Folson) for five of his six originals, occasionally adding bassist Belden Bullock and (on one song apiece) trumpeter Kenyatta Beasley (during the well-titled "Fan Fare Bop") and Neil Clarke on conga. The music is adventurous but quite coherent, often rhythmic and melodic but very open to advanced ideas. These string players can definitely stretch out; improvised sections coincide closely with written passages, so it is sometimes difficult to know which are which. Lake keeps his solo statements concise, tempering his fire with the desire to blend in with the strings. For variety, the leader is absent on the title cut, a fairly outside duet by violinist Regina Carter and pianist Donal Fox. Overall, this is a CD that rewards repeated listenings and is one of the highlights of Oliver Lake's productive career. ~ Scott Yanow