Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
165

Ellery Eskelin/Andrea Parkins/Jim Black: Arcanum Moderne

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Ellery Eskelin/Andrea Parkins/Jim Black: Arcanum Moderne It's hard to look at Arcanum Moderne without reference to the massive heap of recordings this particular trio has piled up over the years, which is both a good and bad thing, of course. There's something about the odd chemistry among Ellery Eskelin, Andrea Parkins, and Jim Black which has fueled endless live performance and ceaseless recorded unrest.

All three players subscribe to the school of purposeful unpredictability, sometimes setting up stark clashes that grab attention and other times falling neatly into uncanny grooves from out of nowhere. But make no mistake: these events, as with most of the rest of what you hear from this group, are not at all random. And when the trio stretches out in between, it's open ground.

Arcanum Moderne juxtaposes tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin's obsession with timbral color alongside a fabric of improvisation that moves from unison/harmonized melodies toward free playing and back. Check out his breathing, fluttering, floating introduction to "Half A Chance," rich with thick overtones and polychromatic hues. Andrea Parkins enters on sampler then piano and accordion, and Jim Black rides the rhythmic tension between stasis and a halting rush. The denouement comes in the form of a stately organ procession toward the end of the piece.

The first track, "It's A Samba" (yes, in its own oblique way) takes advantage of Black's crisp and unpredictable drumming, stretching out over 13 minutes to allow each player to go beyond the appetizers through a full course meal. (Each one of these tunes is expansive, most ten minutes or longer.)

But it's moments like the transition two minutes into "For No Good Reason," where a no-holds-barred improv briefly coalesces into a groove, that you really understand what Eskelin is up to here. It's the contrast between breath and punch, intimacy and distance, past history and modern future, channel and ocean that fuels this excursion into outer sound. Make no mistake, though: Ellery Eskelin is no screamer. As his liner notes point out quite open-mindedly, "there's a lot of ways to improvise and my way is no better than anybody else's." This music is quite active about its expansion and message.

Eskelin's route is most assuredly unlike the rest, which makes it a rare opportunity to glimpse into the spirit of three players who have spent the time and made the effort to join forces for a purpose. Listeners who have followed this group's ongoing course will find that Arcanum Moderne ranks up there with the best of a superlative series of recordings.

Visit Ellery Eskelin and Hatology on the web.


Track Listing: 1. It's A Samba (13:36); 43 RPM (6:19); 3. Five Walls (12:43); 4. For No Good Reason (9:45); 5. Half A Chance (10:50); 6. Arcanum Moderne (14:18).

Personnel: Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Jim Black: drums, percussion; Andrea Parkins: accordion, piano, sampler.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Live
Live
Hatology
2016
buy
Willisau - Live
Willisau - Live
Hatology
2016
buy
[no cover]
Trio New York II
Prime Source Recordings
2013
buy
[no cover]
Mirage
Prime Source Recordings
2013
buy
[no cover]
Jazz Festival...
Prime Source Recordings
2012
buy
[no cover]
Dirigo Rataplan
Prime Source Recordings
2012
buy
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Evan Parker Evan Parker
sax, tenor
Paul Bley Paul Bley
piano
Fred Anderson Fred Anderson
saxophone
Tim Berne Tim Berne
saxophone
Steve Lacy Steve Lacy
sax, soprano
Joe McPhee Joe McPhee
reeds
Ken Vandermark Ken Vandermark
saxophone
David S. Ware David S. Ware
sax, tenor

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.