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As of 2009, Ellery Eskelin and his band mates have been playing together for fifteen years with no let up in sightgood news for advocates of cutting-edge, progressive jazz and improvisation. Recorded live at Towson University in saxophonist Eskelin's home town of Baltimore, Maryland, the trio's multitasking ways come to fruition during this near flawlessly recorded live date.
It's a very special band, indeed. Whether executing impressionistic sub-themes, or going for the proverbial jugular, the unit always transmits a myriad of cleverly articulated persuasions. Once again, Andrea Parkins conjures up numerous contrasts by toggling between accordion, keys, and her laptop sampler. Hence, the trio proceeds to stimulate the senses via a sequence of quirky and odd-metered song-forms, occasionally spiced with eerie treatments and Eskelin's fierce soloing spots.
On "For No Good Reason," Parkins hammers out massive block chords on piano while Eskelin's angular and fluent attack is modified by abrupt u-turns atop drummer Jim Black's variable backbeats. The trio delves into circular and rather mesmeric patterns generating a horde of polytonal contrasts, also rendering dirge-like movements and mixing it all up with an aerial assault of power-packed improvisational encounters. Unanticipated surprises are in abundance, as the unit's overall approach remains remarkably cohesive.
Black's scrappy polyrhythmic solo on "Split The Difference" offers a segue into "Instant Counterpoint," where Eskelin adds fuel to the fire. The trio designs a continual reengineering process amid Parkins' bizarre sampling, along with frameworks that touch upon avant-minimalism. Strangely enough, the three-piece often sounds like a larger ensemble due to Parkins' wide-ranging arsenal of implements and the artists' loose-groove manner of spinning a unison chorus.
This live date highlights the trio's all-encompassing aura, which, of course, initiates a singular identity that is realized by few, if any, of its peers. Ultimately, the performers abide by a dynamic that presents an abundance of beguiling propositions.
Track Listing: For No Good Reason; The Decider; Coordinated Universal Time; Split The Difference; Instant Counterpoint; I Should Have Known; Half A Chance
Personnel: Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Andrea Parkins: accordion, electric piano, organ, laptop sampler and grand piano; Jim Black: drums and percussion.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.