The style's never too free here – not in an avant jazz way – but the group's definitely opening up a bit more than before, and making even more magic with their music! The lineup has changed a bit from earlier albums from this combo – but key Australian players are still very much on hand – the great Bryce Rhode on piano, Jack Brokensha on vibes, and Errol Buddle on reeds! Rhode is one of the best pianists of the time – sadly overlooked upon his 60s return to Australian (where he made some wonderful records) – and his careful sense of tone really starts things off wonderfully – and brings more out of the vibes than we've ever heard on Brokensha's later records. Titles include the long "Take Three Parts Jazz" suite – plus "Detour Ahead", "I'll Remember April", "Bewitched", and "Swingin Goatsherd Blues".
Chucho Valdes, Cuba's most famous jazz musician, has rebalanced the repertoire of his Afro-Cuban Messengers on Border-Free, mixing its American-jazz agenda (the group's name deliberately references both Valdes' roots and the late Art Blakey's classic soul-bop Jazz Messengers group) with more extended Latin-American input, and some Native American and Andalusian connections, too. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, guesting on three tracks, is warmly romantic on tenor on the loping Tabu, agile and fluent on the Cuban dance-shuffle Bebo, and mercurial on a soprano-sax break full of north African microtonalisms on the hurtling, horn-hooting finale, Abdel.