According to saxophonist/composer Ellery Eskelin, The Secret Museum “refers to both the individual and collective experiences that all of us carry around in our daily lives”. And while Eskelin’s liners provide credence to the words behind The Secret Museum, the saxophonist along with sampler/accordion performer Andrea Parkins and drummer/percussionist Jim Black continue to amaze via their exquisite melding of sizzling unison choruses and fascinating improv with rock solid undercurrents.
Recorded in Switzerland, the musicians continue to instill a festive sense of camaraderie amid a deeply stylistic group sound and mode of attack. Yet diversity is one of the primary attributes of this band, which is starkly evident on pieces such as, “Prelude” where Ms. Parkins implements playfully ghoulish accordion and organ samples that revitalize notions of those seemingly ancient black & white gothic horror movies! On “You’ll Know When You Get There”, Eskelin’s penetrating tone and flirtatious lines initiate a hybrid free-jazz/blues-rock motif above Black’s recoiling rhythms and Parkins’ spirited Hammond B-3 organ samples.
The band even manages to perform two of avant-garde guitarist Eugene Chadbourne’s compositions, titled “Paris Swallowtail” and “Nymphaliadae”. With these pieces, Eskelin renders blues drenched notes in accordance with Black’s swirling rhythmic statements along with themes that boast ominous overtones, swinging grooves and fiery interplay. However, the trio gives Thelonious Monk’s “We See”, a rollicking and rolling overhaul complete with artful utilization of space and depth as the soloists harmonically reinvent the primary theme, while Eskelin and Parkins also initiate a series of captivating improvisational skirmishes. The proceedings continue to gel on the impacting opus titled, “Mediation” as Eskelin blows punishing choruses atop Black’s pounding beats.
Without a doubt, The Secret Museum is a multifaceted work that highlights the overall scope of this dynamic aggregation, as this new recording effectively showcases the climactic nature or calling card of the trio’s perspicuous intensity and unabashed inventiveness – Highly recommended!
* * * * ½ (Out of * * * * *)
Personnel: Ellery Eskelin; tenor saxophone, with Andrea Parkins; accordion & sampler: Jim Black; percussion