The improvisational intersection of American and European music exemplified in the recording Every So Often finds common ground without much trouble when the improvisers are Ellery Eskelin and Sylvie Courvoisier.
This hour of sonically stellar studio recordings never lacks for innovation nor repeats ideas. Saxophonist Eskelin, a jazz maverick is probably best known for his trio work with drummer Jim Black and accordion player Andrea Parkins, with their 'rock the Sun Ra casbah' music. His jazz roots are often times exploded into multiple directions of rock, improv, blues, and folk. On paper, he might not be a fitting match for a Swiss-born, classical/improv chamber artist. Courvoisier, a frequent collaborator with the likes of Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander, and John Zorn, has released several solo discs of improvisation. Together, Eskelin and Courvoisier recorded As Soon As Possible (CAM, 2008) with cellist Vincent Courtois.
While this is indeed fully improvised music, the duo is dedicated to euphonic sound. The music is never discordant as the two blend the sometimes slippery blues of Eskelin against the proper European chamber notes of Courvoisier. Her admirable band-in-a-box approach to all parts of her piano, heard on the title track, finds her knocking on wood, plucking insides, mining the utmost from the waves of energy she creates through the palpable feeling. Eskelin comments, responds, and works the edges of her energy. Later on the more direct "Accidentals," both players step up to the front line, bouncing whole notes off each other. But mostly the music tends toward a more courteous and sympathetic tone, making it possible to hear both musicians with full clarity of sound.
Track Listing: Moderato Cantabile; Architectural; A Distant Place; Every So Often; Open Channel;
Accidentals; Wave Off; Blind Spot; Processing.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.