It has some room for improvisation but the main thrust is the rather wonderfully voiced ensemble writing. The improvisations extend the mood and tonal thrust of the composition as a whole quite nicely. But it is especially in the body of the written syntax that we find a kind of musically subtle nirvana.
Detrick's music is lyrical with the tang of modernism to situate the feelings and bring us to the middle of that rush of a world. Douglas remarks in the liners that once he finished composing the work it gained a life of its own. That is certainly true of any creative act, and yet in the musical personality of the quintet's performance we find that Detrick himself still lives, of course. Not in any mundane sense. The performances are themselves a big factor in the success of the work. The ensemble has a definite personality that reflects no doubt Detrick's vision of the music.
So you put the two together and you have a disk that sings with the best of so-called "Third Stream" qualities--the modern classical and the jazz sensibility joined together for a work that has genuine thrust. It makes me want to hear Detrick write for a larger ensemble, though this quintet work stands on its own without the help of further works to validate the musical sensitivity and talent of Douglas Detrick. That's already here. Captured on disk for us.
I find this album intriguing, so much so that I do not care where it fits or what "school" it belongs to. It is an excellent work that sounds better every time I hear it.
The rise of the AACM taught us that composition and improvisation can be whatever it pleases, depending on the creativity and will of the music makers. It may partake of classical elements whenever it wishes. What counts is the result. Detrick triumphs in that way here. Give it a close listen!