All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

336

Ben Perowsky Quartet: Esopus Opus

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Esopus Opus | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Skirl Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Moodswing Orchestra

Sarnia Organ Donor Awareness
2010

buy
Esopus Opus

Esopus Opus

Skirl Records
2009

buy
Bop on Pop

Bop on Pop

JazzKey Music
2002

buy

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Power Of Love" CD/LP/Track Review Power Of Love
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "An Angel Fell" CD/LP/Track Review An Angel Fell
by Chris May
Published: April 3, 2018
Read "For Gyumri" CD/LP/Track Review For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "# 1" CD/LP/Track Review # 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "The Bug" CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Vertical" CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018