For the past forty years Ellery Eskelin has been at the forefront of the global creative improvised music scene. Based in New York City, he has traveled widely, performing, recording and amassing a personal and iconoclastic body of work with the view that jazz and American music is an ongoing creative process with great relevancy to our time. In this pursuit Eskelin consistently delivers a passionate musical expression to the listening public.
Ellery Eskelin (born 1959) was raised in Baltimore and began playing the tenor saxophone at age ten, inspired by his mother "Bobbie Lee" who played Hammond B3 organ professionally in the early sixties. In 1983 Eskelin moved to New York City and in 1987 began recording with the cooperative group Joint Venture which also began his exposure on the European international touring circuit. Soon after, Eskelin formed the first of many projects as a leader beginning with a trio comprised of bassist Drew Gress and drummer Phil Haynes followed by a short lived group featuring Joe Daley on tuba and Arto Tuncboyaciyan on bakdav drums and percussion. In 1992 Eskelin joined drummer Joey Baron’s group, "Baron Down" (instrumentation of drums, trombone and saxophone), an experience that proved to be an important catalyst in his own work fostering an increased interest in new and unusual instrumentation. In 1994 Eskelin formed the group most often associated with him including accordionist Andrea Parkins and drummer Jim Black. To date he has written over 50 compositions for this group, each of which has been documented on a series of CD releases on the Swiss hatHUT record label. The band has toured regularly and performed hundreds of concerts in the US, Canada and throughout Europe during the past twenty years.
Subsequent touring and recording projects include "Trio New York" featuring organist Gary Versace and drummer Gerald Cleaver, taking a free approach to the great American songbook, as well as a trio including Swiss bassist Christian Weber and German drummer Michael Griener exploring both free improvisation as well as renditions of early jazz classics. Along the way Eskelin has done a number of side projects including a group featuring guitarist Marc Ribot and drummer Kenny Wollesen dedicated to the music of Gene Ammons, improvisatory duos with Dutch drummer Han Bennink, an improvising ensemble consisting of strings, vibraphone and saxophone and most recently a group featuring Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar and bassist Michael Formanek. Over the years Eskelin has developed a number of other important associations with musicians such as Gerry Hemingway, Mark Helias, Sylvie Courvoisier, and Bobby Previte. As a side-person Eskelin has worked with a broad cross section of jazz, avant-pop and new-music figures such as organist Brother Jack McDuff, composer Mikel Rouse, guitarist Eugene Chadbourne, oud player and composer Rabih Abou-Khalil, drummer Daniel Humair and the pseudo-group "The Grassy Knoll" among many others. Eskelin's many recordings as a leader and co-leader have been named in Best of the Year critics' polls in the New York Times, The Village Voice, and major jazz magazines in the US and abroad.