In his liner notes to A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke, pianist/electronicist Vijay Iyer writes that while working in trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet/Quintet between 2005 and 2010, the pair often became "a unit within a unit." Evidenced by Tabligh in 2008 and Golden Quintet's half of the 2009 double-disc Spiritual Dimensions, this album (marking the trumpeter's first appearance on ECM in more than two decades) underscores that assertion via distillation. It is one of essences. It reveals the intricacies of music-making according to principles of instinct as well as close listening. Iyer's opening "Passage" is a surprise. The pianist's gently investigatory chords and thematic harmonics offer the hallmarks of a chamber piece.
Multi-talented writer/singer/producer Russ Ballard. Ballard has had a long and distinguished career, first as a member of The Roulettes, Unit 4+2 and Argent, before going solo. AT THE THIRD STROKE is one of Russ Ballard's best solo albums ever. Among the great songs here is "Cast The Spirit", which is a song about making sure that you do what your heart says is right.