This album is among my favorites of Kenny Garrett's. Though a lot of people mistake this album as an attempt to copy John Coltrane's music, one has to understand the remarkable similarities between Garrett and Coltrane. They have each developed a similar harmonic concept and melodic approach to their playing (however, Garrett obviously was simply another student of Coltrane, like all saxophone players...).
There was no doubt in my mind that Garrett was up to the task of playing Coltrane's music when I bought the CD, because he's pretty much the undisputed champion of the alto saxophone, but I was really impressed by the rest of the group in matching the force and imagination that was behind Garrett's playing.
First of all, Pat Metheny assumes the roll of McCoy Tyner as the accompanist. This is an unsusal setting for the guitarist, but he does an amazing job of laying back, although almost too much at times. Tyner was agressive and intense while staying out of the way of Coltrane. I read a review saying that Metheny was wrong for spraying his "Cheeze Whiz" guitar synth sound all over this record. I felt I had to respond. The effects (which were used sparingly) allow the sound of Metheny's guitar to match the intensity of Garrett's tone, and I fell it works beautifully. Metheny also plays his 42-string Pikasso guitar, adding to the creativity. Garrett hired Pat Metheny for a reason: because he's freaking PAT METHENY man! No one else could have done as good a job, and the use of guitar over piano forced innovation onto the quartet.
The rest of the quartet holds it down as well. Rodney Whitaker (bass) is just the rock of the whole group. He lays an amazing foundation for improvisation. I really like listening to Brian Blade's playing on the record as well because he's still getting to where he is now (check out Directions in Music...) but he's well on his way. I also think that its cool how he dropped a beat coming out of a fill into the head on Countdown. Its not cool that he messed up so much as it is that they didn't go all 'digital' and fix it. They keep it totally real on this album, and its definitely worth checking out.