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Eric McPherson: Continuum

Jim Santella By

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Drummer Eric McPherson leads a creative ensemble on this eclectic program for the free transmission of ideas. He's grown out of deep experience with the late legends Jackie McLean and Andrew Hill. Tradition remains intact as his ensemble interprets pieces by the former and bassist Richard Davis, while several original compositions power the drummer and his partners solidly. Abraham Burton joins on saxophones and flute, adding an alluring voice. When they team with bassist John Hebert—McPherson's rhythm mate from Hill's group—on "3rio Suite," the mood turns exotic and mesmerizing. Later, bassist Dezron Douglas enters from the right channel to paint "Misako" and "De Javu Monk" with broad strokes that carry a strong rhythmic flair. In an earlier section, Hebert's bowed drone and Douglas' plucked syncopation mesh with Burton's flute as McPherson propels a delicate air. Later, the bookend basses steer piano, tenor and drums through a maze of wit. The drummer varies his program with principled methods that bridge the gap between John Coltrane and John Lennon: melody is married to rhythmic and harmonic creativity.

"Black Pearl" features spoken word by Carla Cherry and the drone of a yirdaki, played by Trevor Todd. Cherry tells the story of a proud woman making success work for her in New York as inspiration for artists everywhere. Jazz is woven into the tale from all corners of the city, where the arts get together and create new life for new generations. She convinces with the help of McPherson's tom-tom mallets and cymbals punctuating the didgeridoo sound of Todd's expressive instrument. McLean's "The Collective Expression" transforms the mood into a smooth sashay with Fender Rhodes piano (Shimrit Shoshan), alto saxophone, bass and drums that picks up Cherry's story where it left off. Without narration, they continue the tale of jazz in New York and demonstrate its ability to take hold, embed itself deep in your soul and never let go.

Track Listing: 3rio Suite (Mr. Hill; Of Mind); Misako; Black Pearl; The Collective Expression; De Javu Monk.

Personnel: Eric McPherson: drums; Abraham Burton: tenor saxophone (6), alto saxophone (5), soprano saxophone (1, 2), flute (3); David Bryant: piano (3, 6); Dezron Douglas: double bass (3, 5, 6); John Hebert: double bass (1, 2, 3, 6); Shimrit Shoshan: Rhodes electric piano (5); Carla Cherry: spoken word (4); Trevor Todd: yirdaki (4).

Title: Continuum | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Smalls Records

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