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The Detroit alto saxophonist's rapport with his regularly touring sidemen shows through here, intuitively partnered by the now-departed Kenny Kirkland (piano), Nat Reeves (bass) and Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums). The songbook of the title is Garrett's, the whole album devoted to his own compositions. The actual themes are closely entwined with the ascending journey made by each player's individual solos, the disc coming across as a series of upward swings, violent releases and contemplative mustering of forces for the next graph curve climb. "2 Down & 1 Across" is a suitably motorised opener, Kirkland attacking his keys with percussive relish, then feeling more easy-going for "November 15", striding rather than running. It's back to the bustle during "Wooden Steps", its cascading hyperactivity powered by Tain's whirling stick-storm. One of the highest pitches of intensity is achieved by Garrett's live favourite "Sing A Song Of Song", reaching up to a veritable jugular-popping peak, then recuperating with the soulful "Brother Hubbard", coasting around a bossa nova beach on "Ms. Baja". The key concept is always dynamics, Garrett acutely aware of how to manipulate the listener's mood, from a dreamy sway to a sudden unbalancing act. --Martin Longley