John Escreet: Don't Fight The Inevitable (2010)
British pianist John Escreet is a prodigiously talented young musician with a growing reputation as a player and composer. Don't Fight The Inevitablehis second solo album, following 2008's acclaimed Consequences (Posi-Tone Records)finds Escreet in the company of top-flight New York players, creating some intense and complex music.
The quintet is almost identical to that which played on Consequences, the exception being drummer Nasheet Waits, who replaces Tyshawn Sorey. Waits, part of Escreet's mentor Jason Moran's trio, slips effortlessly into the lineup, coupling up with bassist Matt Brewer to deliver a solid rhythmic foundation that also manages to be flexible and creative in its own right.
Escreet is undoubtedly a strong pianist, with a distinctive percussive style that lends itself particularly to the faster, harder-hitting, tunes. But his slower, softer, playing is also effective and his solo piano in the opening minutes of "Magical Chemical (For the Future)" delivers some of the most affecting music on the album. However, it's saxophonist David Binney and, especially, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire who really make this album memorable. Binney also adds electronicsmost effectively in the latter stages of "Don't Fight the Inevitable" and across "Soundscape." Both Binney and Akinmusire complement Escreet's stylethe staccato patterns on "Civilization on Trial" are a perfect example. On their own solos they add a wilder, riskier, edge to the music, with Akinmusire's solos on "Trouble and Activity" and "Avaricious World" standing out.
"Don't Fight the Inevitable" contains some of the album's most intense and aggressive playing, but it also contains a lovely, slightly rough-edged solo from Akinmusire, as well as some terrific rhythm work from Waits and Brewer under Escreet's solo. The single non-original tuneMuhal Richard Abrams' "Charlie in the Parker"brings a slightly lighter tone to proceedings and adds the voice of Charlie Parker himself discussing melody, harmony and rhythm before the band comes in with a brief but lyrical bop-inspired theme. "Gone but not Forgotten" also demands special mentionit's a gorgeous, slow, Escreet-Binney duet, and a co-composition that contributes a substantially different mood and color to the album.
There's a freshness to Don't Fight The Inevitable that establishes Escreet as a potentially major creative force, and his quintet as an innovative and exciting unit. It's albums such as this that serve to reinforce a sense of optimism about the future of jazz.
Track Listing: Civilization on Trial; Don't Fight the Inevitable; Soundscape; Magic Chemical (For the Future); Charlie in the Parker; Trouble and Activity; Gone But Not Forgotten; Avaricious World.
Personnel: John Escreet: piano; David Binney: alto saxophone, electronics; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Matt Brewer: double-bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.