1. As everyone else has already mentioned, Components splits itself into two sides, the more traditional A (all written by Hutcherson) and the avant-garde B (all written by drummer Joe Chambers). Less mentioned is how the first half is split into 4 tiny galaxies of its own: the hard bop “Components”, the proto-ambient “Tranquility”, the child-like theme of “Little B’s Poem” and finally the sleuth-theme “West 22nd Street Theme.” Dig Chambers’ versatility on the first two songs: how he shifts from big and booming thunder to waves during the title track, and to raindrops (friendly and wanted) on “Tranquility.” If “Little B’s Poem”’s theme is a little too cloying to you (it is to me on certain moods, anyway), skip straight to the 2:02 mark for James Spaulding’s flute solo (the way he starts is basically the flute equivalent of “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”). Dig Herbie Hancock’s rapid-fire chords on “Components” (around the 3:10 mark), elevating Hutcherson’s solo. And be sure to check out what he does around the 4:11 mark of “Little B’s Poem,” bringing the song into a climax of descending and crashing chords – the fiery inspiration seems to come out of nowhere and at the same time, is tonally fitting with the rest of the song.
2. The second side is stranger, rivaling “Tranquility” in terms of atmosphere, but evoking a different sort: “Movement” eventually turns into a jungle in the thickness of the sounds; “Juba Dance” juxtaposes Chambers’ cavernous drumming with Spaulding’s flute. Contrary to what Chambers’ said about “Air”’s “free counterpoint,” the song is pure evil in the way some of the players seem to be contorting their instruments to play unnatural notes ie. Hutcherson at the 1:53 or 3:42 mark, or is that Hancock, or Spaulding at the 2:00 mark. Hancock makes himself known through all of these songs; Ron Carter doesn’t. “Pastoral” is innocent, innocuous, inconsequential; a return to normalcy.