It wasn't too hard to guess that Garth Hudson's long-awaited solo album would be a tour de force
; his virtuoso instrumental talents stood out even in that legendary group of musicians known as the Band. What may surprise listeners, however, is the sheer scope of sound on this effort, with Hudson playing an intimidating range of keyboards (including pipe organ), various saxophones, accordion, melodica, and Tarogato. Each track is a sonic adventure, the hapless listener unsure of what lies around the next bend. Several centuries of music and continents seem embedded in the elegiac title track ("composition" is a better word for music of this scope), while "The Saga of Cyrus and Mulgrew" is boldly futuristic. Later years found the erstwhile members of the Band occasionally digging into the Grateful Dead's catalog, and Hudson is no exception, doing a free jazzy take on "Dark Star" on which he even offers some spoken vocals. Members of that sterling Woodstock, NY, band the Crowmatix show up here, with prominent appearances by group leader Professor "Louie" (aka Aaron Hurwitz), who co-produces. Hudson's old bandmate Levon Helm shows up as well. This is startlingly spontaneous music with a brain (a very big brain), and it's not for the faint of heart or the average pop fan. And that's a great thing.