Like all free jazz albums, The Exchange Session, Vol. 1 should be approached with caution. It’s a great night-driving companion and opens up to the patient listener willing to give it more than one chance.
The album achieves a great deal of its success from the relaxed collaboration, but it does suffer from it, as well. Reid and Hebden interact so casually that they don't find the friction to really propel great improvisational music.
The record doesn’t sound much like a free improv session, but it retains the crucial dynamic of starting from zero and seeing where it goes, and there’s enough going on here to make me curious where they’ll go next.