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On the Road with Ellery Eskelin w/ Andrea Parkins & Jim Black Prime Source DVD 3010 2004
What is life like on the road? Music enthusiasts often wonder. As part of the 10-year anniversary celebration of his trio, saxophonist Ellery Eskelin offers a glimpse of touring on his new DVD On the Road With.
Eskelin personally culled the hour-long program from more than 25 hours of footage from the spring 2003 European tour with partners Andrea Parkins (accordion, sampler, piano) and Jim Black (drums). Filmed on the fly, mostly by the band and audience members, what it lacks in production values, it makes up for with all-access intimacy, catching the group's backstage banter, sleep-deprived giddiness and travel malaise. These sequences are juxtaposed with powerful performance clips, whose highlights include the final climax of "43 RPM", the Black's-eye view of a sound check, an "It's A Samba" montage from across the continent and close-ups of extended solo performances by each member of the group.
In adhering to the short runtime, the musical performances are often edited; because it is homemade, the edits can be jarring at times - whetting the appetite, but cutting out just as things start cooking. Intentional or not, the musical segments' brevity likely mirrors the band's perceptions of touring - performing is the brief highlight between hustling to a waiting transport and the attendant downtime.
The DVD includes moments when subjects are either self-conscious of or completely oblivious to the camera's presence and sprinkles in surprises and local flavors to give a sense of the delight, boredom and spontaneous lunacy of life on the road.