With these two discs, we get two contrasting views of West Coast, now NYC-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt.
class="f-left"> Harris Eisenstadt
Ahimsa Orchestra, on Vinny Golia's Nine Winds label, consists of two lustrous large-ensemble works written by Eisenstadt and inspired by Mahatma Gandhi: the three-part "Non-Violence and the four-part "Relief. Both are conducted by Omid Zoufonoun and performed by twelve-piece bands with slight changes in personnel and instrumentation. One of the most prominent textures is Eisenstadt's percussion array, heard in fine detail thanks to an excellent live recording.
"Non-Violence, a confluence of bassoon, clarinet, oboe, flute, brass, vibes, bass, and two electric guitars, is at once acoustic and quasi-mechanical, contemplative and crazed, written and improvised, free-jazzy and orchestral. Instruments vie for prominence or fade to background, with inventive solos offset by carefully wrought themes. "Relief is aesthetically similar, with one less guitar and an additional percussionist (Alex Cline). Vinny Golia launches Part III with an ecstatic bass clarinet sermon.
Harris Eisenstadt Quintet
Jalolu features an unusual quintet lineup of drum set, baritone sax, and clarinet (Andy Laster), two trumpets (Roy Campbell and Paul Smoker) and cornet (Taylor Ho Bynum). Once again, the music is Eisenstadt's own, including "Ahimsa (Non-Violence) #2, seemingly an abbreviated, more concretized version of the large-group piece. There are two takes each of "Seruba and the Dolphy-dedicated "Jumpin In, as well as a placid homage to percussionist Adam Rudolph called "Go. Because Eisenstadt plays kit rather than percussion, Jalolu is more groove-oriented than the Nine Winds disc, as the opening "Boogie on Lenjeno makes clear. Laster's baritone provides muscular bass at times, although his role in relation to the brass is never predictable.
Thanks to clear stereo imaging and helpful notes by engineer Marc Rusch, the three trumpets are easy to tell apart and their mutes, plungers and other effects provide endless color. Eisenstadt often deploys them in pairs, favoring quick blasts of coordinated dissonance. But a feeling of airy, open space prevails.
Tracks: Non-violence I; II; III; Relief I; II; III; IV.
Personnel: Tracks 1-3: Steve Adams: C flute; Liz Allbee: trumpet; David Brandt: vibraphone; Kyle Bruckmann: oboe; George Cremaschi: contrabass; Harris Eisenstadt: percussion, composer; Phillip Greenlief: bflat clarinet; Bill Horvitz: electric guitar; Noah Phillips: electric guitar; Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon; Kris Tiner: trumpet; Toyoji Tomita: trombone; Omid Zoufonoun: conductor. Tracks 4-7: Ellen Burr: C flute; Bill Casale: contrabass; Jessica Catron: cello; Alex Cline: percussion; Dan Clucas: trumpet; Harris Eisenstadt: percussion, composer; Vinny Golia: bass clarinet; George McMullen: trombone; Noah Phillips: electric guitar; Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon; Brian Walsh: bflat clarinet; Mark Weaver: tuba; Omid Zoufonoun: conductor.
Tracks: Boogie on Lenjeno; Seruba (take 2); Mwindo; Go (for Adam Rudolph); Jumpin' In (for Eric Dolphy); Seruba (take 1); Ahimsa (Non-Violence) #2; Jumpin' In (for Eric Dolphy) (take 2).
Personnel: Harris Eisenstadt: drums; Andy Laster: clarinet, baritone saxophone; Roy Campbell: trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn; Paul Smoker: trumpet; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet.
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