Harris Eisenstadt: Canada Day II (2011)
If you believe most recordings by drummer/composers are positive statements, then Harris Eisenstadt's Canada Day II is more than a glass half full. It is a brimming cup of music.
The disc follows 2009's Canada Day, on Portugal's Clean Feed label, with the same lineup. Eisenstadt infuses each recording with a buoyancy and high-spiritedness, not unlike fellow drummers Matt Wilson and John Hollenbeck.
Eisenstadt, a student of African drumming, has written for large jazz bands, chamber ensembles, and small groups playing music from classical to rock. His jazz inflection is flavored by his experience in all these genres, but seems to have an overriding impulse towards motility and progression.
The compositions rely on seemingly simple melodies, executed with increasing intricacy. That task is managed by the stellar lineup of the next generation of jazz stars. The slightly sentimental "Song For Owen," dedicated to the drummer's new son, glides on melody and some agreeable soloing by saxophonist Matt Bauder, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and vibraphonist Chris Dingman, each player remaining true to its theme; a pervasive approach throughout the release. Eisenstadt sets the mood, and his band cautiously swings each piece. With Eisenstadt and Dingman driving "Cobble Hook," bassist Eivind Opsvik can circle the block, emitting an energetic vibe that calls out each player to join this celebratory song. "To Seventeen" features a slowed reggae beat. The combination of Bauder and Wooley flavors the folksy melody into a comfortable interplay of harmonies.
The band draws on the 1960s sounds of Bobby Hutcherson and Tony Williams for "Now Longer," with Eisenstadt working the cymbals for propulsion and his players exploring some extended techniques. Bauder's echoey saxophone meets Wooley's muted trumpet somewhere in low orbit as Dingman colors the song's canvas. A similar feel applies to "To Eh" with Wooley applying some trumpet gymnastics.
The glue here is the perpetual groove, be it applied by the drummer, bassist, or vibraphone as on "To Be," someone is always carrying the freight. That makes for better solos and a crisp accessible sound.
Track Listing: Cobble Hook; To Seventeen; Song For Owen (for Owen Eisenstadt); Now Longer; To Eh; To Be;To See/Tootie; Judo For Tokyo Joe (for John Zorn).
Personnel: Nate Wooley: trumpet; Matt Bauder: tenor saxophone; Chris Dingman: vibraphone; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Harris Eisenstadt: drums, compositions.