No smoke or mirrors were used in the making of Alan Adams' latest album; the instrumental wizardry on the record is rooted in his own fertile imagination. "The Illusionist" of the title may refer to Adams himself, but it's a different kind of magic that he weaves here. With it's swirl of synthesizers and band of horns, Adams' music is caught in between that twilight zone of jazz fusion and progressive rock. The first cut, "Conversations," sways back and forth from both extremes. Adams' retro-futuristic keyboards recall the interstellar overdrive of prog while the drums and horns follow a herky-jerky jazz groove. It's like Emerson, Lake and Palmer riding the "Soul Train" to Ornette Coleman's pad. Given that the initial song on his album explodes with a carnival of sounds, blowing speakers open with bright colors and thunderous energy, it's no wonder why Adams is referred to as "The Illusionist." Adams' synthesizers swoosh with a vintage sheen on "Spring," and it's refreshing to hear those electronic sounds in jazz once again. The slower "Road Trip" leaves an enigmatic, underwater vibe; it is one of the most alluringly mysterious exercises in smooth jazz this year. "Road Trip" is indeed a journey; it has a mood-spinning ambience that is made for mind movies, especially ones involving traveling long distances. Each note is a different street in Adams' dream-state world, and together they produce layers of ethereal atmosphere. Leslie Connors 'JazzTimes'