Tenor saxophonist, Ellery Eskelin is without a doubt one of the most important figures in modern jazz improvisation. Based on several acclaimed recordings with drummer, Jim Black and accordionist/sampler expert, Andrea Parkers amid a few choice session dates, Eskelin's ultramodern visions and marvelous technique, looms rather large these days. However, with this release, featuring notables from what some refer to as being either "New Jazz Music" or in a more granular sense, the "New York City Downtown Scene," Eskelin and his comrades set out on a venture consisting of eight improvisations.
Simply put, it took this writer a while to get used to the saxophonist's muscular, or strenuously echoed lines performed in concert with the string section and vibraphonist Matt Moran's horizontally inclined underpinnings. Occasionaly, Eskelin's deep and altogether glowing thematic inventions seem to contend with the often darkly hued frameworks, consisting of microtonal and minimalist-type sub plots. Otherwise, there is quite a bit going on under the covers as they say.
The musicians tend to subliminally alter various movements, whether it is bassist Mark Dresser's deft plucking of his acoustic bass strings, violist Mat Maneri's subtle shifts in strategy or cellist Erik Friedlander's contrasting statements. With "Paradigm" Eskelin injects bluesy and plaintive cries atop his accompanists' swirling assertions and climactic overtures. Overall, the band lets the chips fall where they may, and other than some awkward moments, Eskelin's latest effort contains more than a few surprises.
Personnel: Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Mat Maneri: viola; Erik Friedlander: cello; Mark Dresser: bass; Matt Moran: vibraphone