John Ellis: By a Thread (2006)
Pianist Aaron Goldberg continues his association with Ellis. Newcomer guitarist Mike Moreno is able to adapt easily to the changing moods; in the process he showcases a touch that exquisitely adds to the rhythm section or strongly leads into uncharted waters. Ellis could not have chosen a better rhythm session: drummer Terreon "Tank Gully brings that same muscle he displays with bassist Christian McBride, as well as a marked percussive musicality that meshes wonderfully with bassist Reuben Rogers.
For By a Thread Ellis has added soprano sax to his already varied sonic palette, and the opening "Ferris Wheel is a quickly turning, wild aural ride of precisely played soprano. This is necessarily followed by the breath-catching rhythmically delicious "Tall Drink of Water and the smooth melodic flow of "Little Giggles." An ancient Eastern feel permeates the ocarina/guitar opening to "Old Man before the band turns the elderly gentleman on to a funky groove; and "Wishing Well features Moreno and Goldberg soloing in various directions, augmented by bass clarinet.
"Lonnie, with Goldberg on Rhodes, combined with some juicy tenor and down-home rhythms, would certainly please its namesake; the bluesy "Umpty Eleven is a forum for Ellis' wide range and Moreno's agility against a pleasing backdrop. "Swirl does just that, thanks to Goldberg's hypnotic lines, until the funkster "Moore's Alphabet," a paean to New Orleans drummer Stanton Moore, forcefully closes things out on the strong shoulders of Gully and Rogers.
Track Listing: Ferris Wheel; Tall Drink of Water; Little Giggles; Old Man; Wishing Well; Lonnie; Umpty Eleven; Swirl; Moore's Alphabet.
Personnel: John Ellis: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, ocarina; Aaron Goldberg: piano; Mike Moreno: guitar; Reuben Rogers: bass; Terreon Gully: drums.
Record Label: Hyena Records