336

Ben Perowsky Quartet: Esopus Opus

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Ben Perowsky Quartet: Esopus Opus A ubiquitous presence in the Downtown New York scene, drummer Ben Perowsky founded and co-led the proto-fusion band Lost Tribe, served in Elysian Fields, Joan as Policewoman, and the Lounge Lizards, while continuing to perform sideman duties for Steven Bernstein, Uri Caine, Dave Douglas, and John Zorn, among others.

An artist with eclectic interests, the debut of Perowsky's new quartet, Esopus Opus, features myriad genres—from classic rock covers and Brazilian favorites to his own mercurial originals. Interestingly, Perowsky's group inadvertently mirrors fellow percussionist John Hollenbeck's flagship ensemble, the Claudia Quintet. Both line-ups feature Chris Speed (clarinet, tenor saxophone), Ted Reichman (accordion), and Drew Gress (bass), with Hollenbeck's Quintet adding vibraphonist Matt Moran to the mix.

Despite similarities in personnel, Perowsky approaches writing for the same basic instrumentation from a different angle, drawing deeper from folk forms and popular music than Hollenbeck, whose more formal approach embraces aspects of neo-classicism and minimalism. Like two sides of the same coin, Perowsky uses a similar palette to obtain different results; his appealingly ragged tunes are more akin to punk rock than classical music.

A latecomer to jazz, Perowsky spent his formative years playing in rock bands. His choice of cover tunes reveals a fondness for the genre, with a knack for creatively reinterpreting straightforward pop melodies without abstracting them beyond recognition. Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" is given a spirited collective treatment, while George Harrison's epic "Within You Without You" slowly builds in poignancy. Bolstered by Reichman's soaring accordion, Hermeto Pascoal's lush "Nem Um Talvez" enjoys a colorful reading, while The Beatles' tender "Flying" exemplifies unadorned splendor.

Eclectic to a fault, the album's original tunes veer from funky blues ("Key Lime") and cartoonish ebullience ("Esopus Opus") to testimonial Gospel ("Murnau on the Bayou") and a modal waltz ("Present Distance"). Perowsky even internalizes the classic rock of his youth, liberally quoting Argent's 1972 hit "Hold Your Head Up" on the moody closer, "Red Hook."

Beyond the catchy tunes, the record's lasting appeal rests in the stellar capabilities of Perowsky's veteran sidemen. Gress' subterranean bottom end complements the leader's percussive thrashings with machine-like precision while Reichman's rich chordal voicings lend an exotic air; his sonorous pedal tones provide the group with a vast, expansive sound. Playing clarinet for the majority of the session, Speed delivers a number of breathtaking statements, most notably on the John Coltrane-esque "Present Distance," which features a lengthy, unfettered tenor solo—something one rarely hears on his own records.

A compelling statement from an up and coming new voice, Esopus Opus is a raw, enthusiastic exploration of the endless possibilities of contemporary music.


Track Listing: Key Lime; Manic Depression; Within You Without You; Esopus Opus; Perolas; New Um Talvez; Flying; Murnau On The Bayou; Present Distance; Red Hook.

Personnel: Ben Perowsky: drums, Chris Speed: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Ted Reichman: accordion; Drew Gress: bass.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Skirl Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "The Linda Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Linda Sessions
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Music of Weather Report" CD/LP/Track Review Music of Weather Report
by John Ephland
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Copenhagen Diaries" CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Diaries
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "A Kenton Celebration" CD/LP/Track Review A Kenton Celebration
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 26, 2016

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!