Track 1-5 recorded on December 10, 1991 at Kleines Zall of the Vredenburg in Utrecht, Holland.
Track 6 recorde on December 8, 1991 at Kito Bremen, Germany
Gerry Hemingway's 1993 quartet formed during the disbanding of the Anthony Braxton Quartet (of which he was the drummer) featured that band's bassist, Mark Dresser, as well as Michael Moore on reeds and Wolter Wierbos on trombone. This is the same group who recorded the blistering Special Detail a year earlier. This date shows a different side of Hemingway as a drummer in particular, and his band. The emphasis on Down to the Wire is on texture and nuance; the creation of a space that opens the door to ambiguity and tension in a jazz context, then resolves it within that same space, all the while allowing for liberal individual expression. "If You Like" is an airy passageway through contrapuntal improvising inside a melody that echoes familiar themes of Thelonious Monk. Wierbos' trombone is the backbone of the improvisation here, with Hemingway accenting each phrase with Dresser. Moore seems to be the rhythm section holding down the tune's signature phrase throughout each chorus. On "Space 2," Wierbos states a softly dissonant line, directing his voice to Dresser, who answers with a pizzicato phraseology that clues in Moore and finally Hemingway, who acts as colorist on the tune. Elsewhere, such as on "Waltz 3," the tonal interiority of harmony and interval are whispered by the band, at first through Moore's gorgeous Debussy-infused clarinet playing. Hemingway is playing tin cans and rustling his tom toms while Dresser walks an easy country waltz through this beautifully spacious sonic architecture. This is music that defies musical source. It is improvised yet is full of commanding if delicate structures; it swings gently with a rainbow body of dissonance and near atonality and yet the music created by these four men is controlled in dynamic with a near absence of drama, though tensions abound. Hemingway is a leader with an absolute ear for detail and strength. This was already established. That he had an ear for the detail of space and silence, given his ferocity as a drummer, is a genuine and welcome surprise. Down to the Wire is a stunning effort.
-Thom Jurek (All Music Guide)