Established collaborators Rader (drums) and McMinn (sax and piano) are joined by bassist Motl for this 7-track recording. Motl and Rader formulate an active rhythm section with Rader heavy on the snare and cymbals while Motl explores the fretboard. McMinn’s piano playing is classically influenced, including swells, rolls, and clusters that dovetail nicely with Motl’s discordant bowing. When McMinn switches to sax, the pieces take on a more overtly jazz feel as he blows through angular leads.
Despite their tightness as a group, each member is permitted a few moments of expression. This can take the form of Rader soloing over his own rhythms with accompaniment from Motl, McMinn’s sweeping and pointillistic expressions, or Motl’s jagged droning, assertive soloing, and relentless busyness in the background.
On the improvisation spectrum, To Ignite the Fire lands around a 7 or 8 (where a 10 would be completely free and unstructured). Thus, there is a ton of adventurousness and numerous sharp left turns on this recording. Rader, McMinn, and Motl satisfy on both an intellectual and emotional level. Well done.