Coalescence is a suitably titled ensemble from New York City, its namesake rings true. Each member is a seasoned player in his own right, playing in various ensembles, but together they congeal and offer a coalesced sound. Their debut offering Coalescence (Self-Produced, 2013) gathered together like-minded friends. In 2018, Coalescence recorded their second album Coalescence 2 and once again synthesized their defining sound. Eleven compositions adorn the outing with contributions from each player, saxophonist Kenny Shanker, pianist Mike Eckroth, guitarist Daisuke Abe, bassist Yoshi Waki and drummer Brian Fishler.
"Downhill Climb" offers a pastoral selection that has sections of waltz time and sections of swinging four-four time. The band has a very relaxed and interactive energy about their playing. Each player is exceptionally talented, but as a whole, they really shine. "Downhill Climb" features Eckroth, Shanker and Abe in the solo section. All three are musical and inventive improvisors. Shanker especially is an exciting player, his lines bringing together the heritage and modern musical influence in a way that is stimulating and gratifying to hear. The outro also demonstrates the groups interaction, with the three soloists soloing at the same time, but never loosing sight of the bigger musical picture.
"Whatever, That Was" is a tune that melds the language of jazz, contemporary R&B and funk into a whirlwind of musical sounds and emotions. The rhythm section of Fishler and Waki lays down a groove that feels natural and obviously inspires the soloists. The solo features are by Eckroth and Shanker. Eckroth has a wonderful feel and touch that is melodic and building. Shanker again takes things to a new level. His fluid lines effortlessly run the range of his horn in a meaningful musical fashion. He makes his musical statements from deep within the rhythmic pocket, and that is the magic that makes the music excel. The form gives Fishler a nice ostinato to solo against before the cadence.
What Coalescence brings to the table is a chemistry of friends which relies on a given language that translates into adroit performances. That same trust is represented in their compositions, perfectly tailored to the ensemble's stylistic approach. Their songcraft is buoyant and filled with depth, which makes for an engaging listen. This recipe works, and the result is piquant and robust on many levels on Coalescence 2.
Lynx; Melody 12; Downhill Climb; Weather Chaser; Galileo’s Dialogue; Winter Song; Basel Paisagem; Whatever, That Was; The Dash; Mars; Have a Nice Day.
Kenny Shanker: saxophones; Mike Eckroth: piano; Daisuke Abe: guitar; Yoshi Waki: bass; Brian Fishler: drums.