Ross Hammond Quartet Adored

California is home to freethinkers of myriad stripes. Guitarist/composer Ross Hammond likes his music free, open-ended and inviting of colleagues' personal contributions. With drummer Alex Cline creating rhythmic winds of swirling movement, Hammond gets a wide-open, big sky dimensionality right from the get-go on the title piece. Bassist Steuart Liebig constantly supports soloists with a robust tone, pushing the pulse assertively, as on "Hands Up," which features some punk-ish, punishing percussion. Hammond also enlists the magical multi-instrumentality of woodwind wizard Vinny Golia, who can always be counted on for a committed performance. Golia digs in on tenor, alto and the rarely used C soprano saxophones with exuberance and a feel for Hammond's ideas and improvising. Some pieces, like "Just Knowing You're There," manifest themselves with stately grace, while ones like "Water Always Finds its Way, Like the Soul" are more ecstatic, like a guitar-based "Ascension." (Independent)