All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
Canadian drummer and composer Harris Eisenstadt spans a broad spectrum. He has written for large ensemble, octets and small groups, in styles ranging from chamber to Senegalese pop. Though particularly enamored of African drum rhythms he also works readily in totally improvised settings, so his name on the sleeve rarely betokens an expected outcome.
On Starmelodics, the drummer in conjunction with German pianist Achim Kaufmann and bass virtuoso Mark Dresser takes a slightly sideways look at the modern piano trio, blending the written with free improvisation, with sometimes almost imperceptible joins. All three are equals in composition as much as the seat-of-pants interplay, each contributing two charts, alongside three collective improvs. With varied authorship comes subtle shifts in emphasis. To oversimplify, Kaufmann's pieces are the most cerebral, while Eisenstadt's verge on the jazzy, with Dresser somewhere in between.
After a mysterious opening collage of metallic timbres, Dresser's title track picks up momentum and edges towards a resolution which never quite materializes, for a nervy start to the 56-minute program. In the liners, Kaufmann describes the two independent lines scored in his "Qualtinger" as "controlled serendipity" and that same feel of ricocheting between congruence and dissonance emerges from much of this deliciously oblique offering. The pianist nuances his abstract lines by dampening the piano strings on his edgy pecking "Birdz," but elsewhere his ringing chords and measured droplets provide just the right foil for Dresser's thrumming twangs. Eisenstadt adroitly balances texture with pulse, especially on his exquisite "Seattle," imagined as a glorious place, bathed in warm autumnal colors. Dresser's astonishing arco introduction to the same piece confirms it as one of the albums' high points, with his harmonics, bent notes and strums evoking three simultaneous voices.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.