E.M.P.: E.M.P Project

Franz A. Matzner By

Sign in to view read count
E.M.P.: E.M.P Project The result of a long-awaited musical and personal reunion, the self-titled E.M.P. Project brings together university friends William Ellis (drums), Joseph Patrick Moore (bass), and Shawn Perkinson (guitar) for a two day session of stirring and integrated playing. After graduating from the University of Tennessee ten years ago, each member of the trio has pursued his own successful, independent recording career—but although they remained in close contact, they were unable to perform together for over a decade. Up until now. This album’s cohesiveness provides examples of both the professional jazz musicians' ability to follow one another instinctually and the overriding endurance of close friendship.

Undertaken with a fully collaborative ethos, all material on the album was composed by the trio, each member contributing an equal number of tunes (with one extra from Moore). Significantly, this collaborative spirit echoes throughout the album, the players integrating their personal styles in order to strike a well conceived balance which remains remarkably consistent despite the range of compositions.

Though the group is anchored in the classic guitar trio format, it is a distinct pleasure to hear Perkinson break away from the traditional jazz guitar sound by introducing varied tonal voices. On tracks like “Blues Blown Bye” and “Quickly and Quietly,” Perkinson takes advantage of the electric guitar’s capacity to alter its tonal color, at times producing ethereal effects more often encountered within the ambient and electronica genres. In fact, at rare junctures Perkinson releases mercurial whale song-like emissions reminiscent of such ambient groups as MAIN and LaBradford. This approach proves particularly effective on the track “What?”, composed by Moore, which is buoyed by Moore’s distinctive bass work and Ellis’s floating rhythms and atmospheric cymbals. This standout piece deserves specific attention.

Perkinson is equally comfortable in the more traditional settings of “Warrior” and the serene ballad “Elise,” though admittedly these pieces fail to distinguish themselves as much as “Blues Blown Bye” and “What?”. Frankly speaking, all three musicians, though clearly at home in a “classic” jazz environment, seem to establish more effective and personally expressive dimensions the further afield they travel.

This said, the album remains intriguing throughout, and though certain tracks suffer a lack of distinguishable character, merging into the faceless crowd of modern day jazz, those other tracks which really spread out and take risks show not only the trio’s talent, but its tantalizing willingness to combine classic jazz structures and improvisational techniques with the relatively more recent textural explorations of ambient, electronic, and alterna-rock styles.

It will be very interesting to see what E.M.P. produces next, and it is this listener’s hope that the trio will continue to explore the multiple aspects of musical expression touched on in this first release. It would be most intriguing to hear all three composer/instrumentalists fully confront the nascent challenge exposed by this album, namely a synthesis of jazz’s individualistic, line-oriented improvisation with the more harmonically open, textural explorations of electronic and ambient genres.

Track Listing: 1. Warrior 2. Night 3. Blues Blow Bye 4. Ba Dump 5. Homefront 6. Elise 7. Safe Journey 8. What? 9. Quickly and Quietly 10. Birdy

Personnel: William Ellis: Drums; Joseph Patrick Moore: Acoustic, Electronic & Fretless Bass; Shawn Perkinson: Electric & Acoustic Guitar.

Year Released: 2003 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Solo
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Simians Of Swing" CD/LP/Track Review Simians Of Swing
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 24, 2016
Read "North" CD/LP/Track Review North
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 3, 2016
Read "PointCounterPoint" CD/LP/Track Review PointCounterPoint
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 7, 2016
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 12, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!