David S. Ware, Cooper Moore, William Parker, Muhammad Ali Planetary Unknown

"Cohesive" is one word that comes to mind when listening to 2011's Planetary Unknown. David S. Ware, Cooper-Moore, William Parker and Muhammad Ali join together into one entity for this recording, which for a completely improvised session (also the first time these four musicians have played together as a group), sounds like a well rehearsed band. Of course, this isn't surprising given the collective history and experience they're drawing upon. Muhammad Ali's loose, energetic swing is a prominent undercurrent on the disc, while Ware and Cooper-Moore fluidly dance circles around one another. Parker's bass takes multiple roles, shifting between working tightly with Ali and taking a more melodic standpoint. It's hard to pick highlights on a record that's truly great from start to finish, but a few standout moments include the drum trading on "Ancestry Supramental," the subtle beauty of "Crystal Palace" (Ware's soprano saxophone and Parker's bowed bass are particularly stunning) and sax/drum duet "Duality is One." This last title is particularly appropriate, given the almost-psychic connection these musicians share. Though instead of two, four become one for this truly incredible album. (Aum Fidelity)