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John Escreet: Learn To Live

Mike Jurkovic By

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From the light, airy smoothness of "Opening," through the nomadic, polyrhythmic, suite "Broken Justice (Kalief)" (which brings to contemporary life Weather Report's axiom: "Everyone solos but no-one solos") to the poppy, practically Stevie Wonder-ish "Lady T's Vibe," keyboardist/composer John Escreet's fusion proves to be a many-headed, sinewy hybrid. All are brought to the forefront on Learn To Live.

Employing a host of new and old keyboards, and a band of like-minded originals, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, drummers Eric Harland and Justin Brown, bassist Matt Brewer and saxophonist Greg Osby spring Escreet's soaring compositions to vivid life with tumbling rhythmic and harmonic juxtapositions too numerous, yet ultimately spell-binding, to list. Payton is especially up for this session, sparkling bright on the previously-mentioned "Lady T's Vibe" and adding cool jolts and stings throughout. Harland and Brown, whether individually or in tandem, hold steady no matter what groove is called upon, and that's a tall order given Escreet's turn-on-a-dime writing.

"Test Run" is a highly agitated, free-jazz frenzy, as is the relentless title track which comes hot on its heels. "Learn To Live" furiously runs the post-fusion gamut and has enough synth solos to make any aging fusion-head happy. And, to Escreet's large credit, his solos don't carry that electronic harshness that many did back in the halcyon days. Leader and trumpeter lock horns over Harland's incessant tide on the knotty "Smokescreen," and "Global Citizen" is loaded with the same dark energy reminiscent of Miles Davis's epic Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) and A Tribute To Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971.)

Track Listing: Opening; Broken Justice (Kalief); Lady T's Vibe; Test Run; Learn To Live; Smokescreen; Global Citizen; Contradictions; Humanity Please.

Personnel: John Escreet: piano, keyboards; Greg Osby: saxophone; Nicholas Payton: trumpet; Eric Harland: drums; Justin Brown: drums (1, 2, 4, 8).

Title: Learn To Live | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Blue Room Music

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