The compositions on Fight or Flight
are as elemental as the brass, wood, and steel of the instruments that define the recording’s multi-textured sound.
"Rise" begins frenetically: flutes dueling like blue jays chasing each other through the trees, trombone insinuating itself with truncated growls, mallets plunking a marimba, chimes ringing, and all the while Harris Eisenstadt’s steady drum presence below. This music's policy is to move ahead as fast as it can, but take as much time as necessary to make statements and sustain the logical progression to the next idea. The flutes repeat in joint ascension as "Rise" turns into "People Are Gonna Do What They’re Gonna Do." The septet reduces to the tense triangularity of flute, bass, and drums. Then marimba replaces the bass as Eisenstadt continues his exploration of rhythm and mood.
He may be a drummer first, but Eisenstadt creates a world founded on the touch of stick to cymbal; the snap of Bill Casale’s strings against the trunk of his bass; and Brad Dutz’s delicate introduction of wood to wood on marimba or vibes. For the final tune, "Trouble Here, Fly There," Ellen Burr begins by scatting rapidly through her flute while cymbals offer discreet commentary. The flute is accompanied by a triangle, an instrument that takes the listener back to fourth grade music class, before giving way to Mark Weaver’s grunting tuba. The bass and drums combine to establish the concluding rhythm as the full septet gradually reforms to end softly and melodically. The listener can picture each musician leaning just a little closer to hear the other just a bit better, in order to answer as precisely and correct as possible. Fight or Flight
is aural poetry.
This review originally appeared in the July 2003 issue of All About Jazz - New York
Personnel: Bruce Fowler - Trombone,
David Philipson - Bansuri,
Ellen Burr - Flute,
Harris Eisenstadt - Percussion, Drums.