Boxes of Water
brings together four of LA’s hardest working improvisers. Harris Eisenstadt, Cory Wright, Aaron Kohen, and Noah Phillips participate in countless aggregations throughout the area and beyond: KOLA, the Industrial Jazz Group, the Celebration Trio, Wadada Leo Smith’s Carbon System, Anthony Braxton’s Tricentric Orchestra, Adam Rudolph’s Go:Organic Orchestra, and collaborations too numerous to list.
While various live performances have proven them to be some of the most fearless free players around, their self-titled first release as Boxes of Water shows the quartet also adept at creating and working within tightly arranged complex structures. Eisenstadt’s “Non Violence” opens with Kohen’s bass line, Eisenstadt's cymbal work, and Phillips and Wright playing single-note unisons. When on the frontline with Wright, the guitarist frequently takes on a role usually assigned to another horn, then moves easily into chording. Noah launches the first solo, a concise tangled spiky bramble that quickly leads back to the arrangement. Kohen takes a brief stab before resuming his pivotal bass line. Kohen’s brief, eccentric “Flighty” segues into his “Frompy Fromperson,” where Wright switches from alto to soprano. A brisk bass solo, a few measures of conga rhythm, and Wright plays an effortless solo. Phillips works some octaves before punching a little crunch into his tone over Eisenstadt and Kohen’s cooking.
Phillips’ “The Nature of T.O.E.” unleashes multiple rhythms before Noah creates a figure for Wright (on tenor) and Kohen to play through in unison. The bassist's deep bowing makes way for Wright’s brief variations before he rejoins Aaron. Harris’ “14 Ways for Gerry Hemingway” finds Wright on baritone, getting maximum grit from the big horn, and Phillips switching tempos as the measure demands. With Kohen’s mysterioso bass the track could be an outtake from Joe Baiza’s Universal Congress Of. Wright’s “Gooze” sets a herky-jerky riff in motion, and like his earlier “Mother’s Day,” the group steps off into loose space before reconvening.
Phillips' “The Hawks of Judah Should Have Their Wings Clipped” starts introspective with Wright on soprano, hitting a lockstep riff, then returning to a subdued atmospheric mode. Phillips briefly samples some effects during Wright’s variations, occasionally insinuating the original riff. His “The Enemies of My Enemies Are Waste Producers Like Me” keeps Wright on a high flying soprano over a much faster tempo. After the time relaxes, Eisenstadt tickles cymbals and shakers while Kohen keeps things grounded. Wright and Phillips then ride the arrangement out.
With the band taking it on the road soon, Boxes of Water will be leaking music all over America.
Personnel: Harris Eisenstadt, drums; Noah Phillips, electric guitar; Aaron Kohen, bass; Cory Wright, tenor, soprano, baritone saxophones, clarinet.