On the Road with Ellery Eskelin w/ Andrea Parkins & Jim Black Prime Source DVD 3010 2004
When Ellery Eskelin was about to embark on his Spring Tour 2003 of Europe with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black, he took along his camcorder and a whole lot of blank tapes. That was an inspired decision.
The DVD captures life on the road and this is where the emphasis is, rather than on the music. This is not a concert film, nor is it a documentary in the accepted sense of the term. It is a document of the concert trail that began at the Festival Les 100 Ciels in Nancy, France and moved through Paris where they performed at the Duc Des Lombards, a club that has a large picture of John Coltrane on the right side of the entrance, and from there on to Katowice in Poland, Germany and England. And life on the bus can be fun particularly with Blackhe certainly has a great sense of humor! He has a wry philosophy, his tongue firmly planted in cheek, even when he is yanking Parkins' chain. There is an unexpectedly delightful moment when Bob Marley comes on the soundtrack singing "One Love."
While music is served, it comes in short bursts rather than in whole performances. The only extensive focus is given to the solo performances of Eskelin, Parkins and Black, and they are riveting, at the festival in Nancy. Among the tunes played on tour are "Half a Chance," "Kicks" and "It's a Samba."
The DVD runs approximately one hour (it is full frame and has both the NTSC and PAL versions), whittled down from the 25 hours of footage shot. In coming down to the crux, the viewer gets an interesting and informative view of what transpired during that time. There is Eskelin, discussing the time that the trio has on stage in Nancy and deciding how the performance would transpire and the time that each would get to solo. There is singer Jessica Constable, who adds her name to the playbill which mentions just the three principals, but she does it with a sense of fun. And there are all the people they met on their journey who helped. And even if it was "slapped together late at night by Ellery Eskelin," this is an intimate and vivid portrait.