All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Eskelin - Alcorn - Formanek: Mirage

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
The Rolling Stones, Yes, and other prominent bands have incorporated the pedal steel guitar into the rock vernacular. Here, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn extends this instrument beyond customary Americana or Country & Western formats and becomes the link between modern jazz champions, tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and bassist Michael Formanek. She builds a bridge for a program interspersed with traditional jazz improvisation metrics and ethereal treatments amidst Eskelin's bluesy phrasings and shimmering choruses.

Alcorn's artistry embeds an elastic underpinning into the grand schema. With abstract balladry, solemn explorations and supple flurries, Formanek's multi-purposed attack establishes the cadence for many of these works. The trio navigates through a mélange of sound-sculpting mechanisms, to complement certain movements that elicit notions of a warm blanket enveloping fragile three-way dialogues.

Alcorn's streaming treatments, summon a far-away place on "Divergence." But the trio mixes it up in true jazz-improv style, containing some hustle and bustle along with a sense of urgency during the pesky "Saturation." Formanek's many-sided articulations include nimble plucking maneuvers and contrapuntal support for the soloists, yet "Refraction" is designed on a spacey call-and-response oeuvre by Eskelin and Alcorn that could summon imagery of a mild-mannered dispute.

One of many positives relate to the musicians restraint and ongoing feedback, sparking a throng of subtle micro-themes, engineered with mutable tonalities and shadings. Even though the album firmly rides the experimental spectrum, nothing is overcooked or compounded by excessive soloing extravaganzas. The artists conspicuously respect the overall objectives by crafting a musical statement that communicates a great deal of forethought prior to execution.

Track Listing: Rain Shadow; Meridian; Divergence; Saturation; Absolute Zero; Refraction; Occlusion; Downburst; Mirage.

Personnel: Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Susan Alcorn: pedal steel guitar; Michael Formanek: double bass.

Title: Mirage | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Clean Feed Records


Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Simiskina" CD/LP/Track Review Simiskina
by John Sharpe
Published: December 26, 2017
Read "The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke" CD/LP/Track Review The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "IZA" CD/LP/Track Review IZA
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Planets + Persona" CD/LP/Track Review Planets + Persona
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion
by John Sharpe
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Food Foragers" CD/LP/Track Review Food Foragers
by Don Phipps
Published: March 13, 2018