Erik Jekabson Sextet III: One Note At A Time

Dan Bilawsky By

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Erik Jekabson Sextet III: One Note At A Time
By the time One Note At A Time's first two songs have finished, it's been made abundantly clear that trumpeter Erik Jekabson appreciates a groove as much as he values space. The opener—"Days of Haze"—provides an introductory shot of adrenaline in the form of a tight, funk-framed blues, and "Dusk," in contrast, looks to open vistas, with longer lines and a less-is-more attitude reflecting the liminal spirit in its name. Foreshadowing what's to come, those early offerings prove complementary through contrast.

This eighth album from the San Francisco Bay Area-based horn man, and the third from his sextet, is never short on excitement or allure—or, as already indicated, variety. And in each and every setting, Jekabson seems right at home. Whether oozing passion and conversing with saxophonist Dave Ellis on a laid-back rock jam like "Brother Todd," bounding atop an animated rhythm section on "Bell Song" and "Full House," or playing to moody and brooding notions on "The Growing Place," his trumpet is on the money and in the zone. His band, likewise, operates like a well-oiled machine. Ellis proves to be the perfect match for Jekabson, both in sound and temperament; guitarist Dave MacNab operates as a solid go-between, soloing with verve, adding ambience and texture in slower settings, and joining up with the rhythmic base when needed; and bassist John Wiitala, drummer David Flores and percussionist John Santos prove incredibly versatile, both throwing down in Latin-spiced settings and subtly coating a slow song's perimeter like nobody's business.

Eight of this album's nine songs rely solely on the lock and chemistry of that core band, but the title track stands somewhat apart. Adding several guests to the mix to enhance the atmosphere and speak to truth, it offers an alternative sound and vision. Presenting with stark sensibilities that wouldn't feel out of place in the backdrop of a spaghetti western, Jekabson invites violinists Mads Tolling and Alisa Rose to join up for the slow-drawn, compelling journey. More than three minutes into the trip, Avotcja Jiltonilro enters the picture with spoken word vocals addressing injustices and the healing power of art with a broad sweep. A literal and figurative centerpiece, "One Note At A Time (I Cry Creativity)" proves to be the album's most poignant statement. But no single song can truly sum up this band. In order to get a good idea about what Jekabson and his sextet are all about, this one really needs to be heard from beginning to end.

Track Listing

Days of Haze; Dusk; Brother Todd; Bell Song; One Note at a Time (I Cry Creativity); Full House; The Growing Place; Shaker Funk; When You Went Away.


Erik Jekabson: trumpet; Dave Ellis: saxophone; Dave MacNab: guitar; John Wiitala: bass; David Flores: drums; John Santos: percussion; Avotcja: vocals (5); Mads Tolling: violin (5); Alisa Rose: violin: (5).

Album information

Title: One Note At A Time | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Wide Hive Records

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