E.J. Strickland: In This Day (2009)
For those familiar with E.J. Strickland, the anticipated In This Day is well worth the wait. A striking young drummer/composer, he is well-known for his brilliant work as a member of Ravi Coltrane's premier quartet and with other artists, including his twin brother, saxophonist Marcus Strickland. With agile omni-directional traps and emotive playing in the spirit of patriarchs such as Elvin Jones and current firebrands like Eric Harland, Strickland shows his mettle as a leader and gives life to his musical visions on this debut.
Between recordings and touring with other bands including Cassandra Wilson, and George Colligan, Strickland found time to headline his own groups in New York City. Fruitful gigs ripe with inventive ideas gave birth to this release, which showcases a first-call quintet of new heaviesbrother Marcus (tenor sax), Jaleel Shaw (alto sax), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Luis Perdomo (piano), along with many special guests.
From start to finish, Strickland's well-conceived ideas blossom: hard-bopping swing in "Abandoned Discovery"; the heart-pulse of the motherland in "Asante," reminiscent of Randy Weston's African Rhythms; meditative spoken word by Cheray O'Neal ("Eternal" and "In Faith"); and Afro-Cuban influences and contemporary rhythms ("Angular Realms") that are prismatic beams of the drummer's depth and influences.
Strickland is not just a superior player but also a careful listener and composer, allowing not only his quintet but others to shine, such as Pedro Martinez on his infectious djembe, which flows in harmony with Tia Fuller's beautiful flute and Glawischnig's affective bass on the gorgeous "Illusions." It segues perfectly into "Robin," where harpist Brandee Younger and guitarist David Gilmore share a poignant introduction.
Whether it is cyclonic sessions, lush ballads, or spiritual musings, the set has a unique personality that is wide-ranging, logical, and at times brilliant. A very noteworthy debut from the equally talented, other Strickland brother, E.J.
Track Listing: Abandoned Discovery; Asante; Eternal (intro); Eternal; Pedrito's Prelude; New Beginning's; In Faith; In This Day; Angular Realms; Find Myself; Wrong Turn; Illusions; Robin (intro); Robin Fly Away.
Personnel: E.J. Strickland: drums; Jaleel Shaw: alto sax; Hans Glawischnig: acoustic and electric basses; Luis Perdomo: piano, keyboards; David Gilmore: guitar (9, 13); Pedro Martinez: congas, djembe (2, 5, 6, 12); Yosvany Terryl: tenor sax, chekere, bell (6); Charenee Wade: vocals (3); Cheray O'Neal-Mamazun: spoken word (3, 7); Tia Fuller (12); Brandee Younger: harp (13).