Once again the outside world has provided a launching point and a system of order to draw from for Rudresh. The music on Codebook stems from ideas and concepts related to cryptography. The varied systems provided the groundwork for Rudresh to approach the DNA of the compositions from fresh and previously unexplored angles. A standard could be transformed into an entirely fresh piece, a melody conceived by encoding words or phrases, and cyclic rhythms reorganized by way of a cipher. All of this is to say that another structure of order has been applied to music, but has been done so with such care and thought that the result sounds in no way formulated. As with all of Rudresh’s music, the final product is quite surprising and intuitive. You can hear it in a track like “Play It Again Sam”, dedicated to Samuel Morse, where Rudresh opens and closes playing what could easily be Morse code. “D (Dee-Dee)” moves with a hint of a hard bop swing reoriented for a new audience. These pieces are just some examples of how the music never comes off sounding rigid or pastiche but instead as examples of a composer’s hand deftly working within a system and creating something entirely organic.
Evident throughout the CD is Rudresh’s sense of humor. From the titles of the pieces, to song structure, to group interplay and beyond, the music on Codebook lives and breathes in a new way. The “Decider” kicks off with a line as twisted as the logic of the person who inspired the title. “Enhanced Performance” is just that. Without the help of any illegal musical substances, the group locks into a groove and never lets go. “Further and In Between” continues this muscular sound by beginning with a driving bass figure, that with the help of new drummer Dan Weiss, launches the band into one of its trademark powerful attacks. The CD’s nine tracks showcase the band’s handle of this tricky material and further emphasize why they are one of the today’s most creative and forward looking quartets.
"To observe that Mahanthappa fused the incantatory phrase-making and exotic scales of Indian music with the free-wheeling improvisational spirit of American jazz would be an understatement. He's so thoroughly immersed in both worlds that he conjured up a startlingly original merger of the two."
– Chicago Tribune
"The band references a classic hard-bop sound, but what they play is many times more compact and intense. Mahanthappa's biting attack pairs a Coltrane influence with an incisive, exacting articulation, which absolutely soars…"