During the advent of bop and the hot n' heavy mainstream swing years, a session with a stellar lineup of critically acclaimed musicians would often be referred to as the [insert magazine name] Critics' Poll All-Stars or something like John Doe and his Jazz All-Stars. However, venerable bassist Stephan Crump underscores the premise of this album as a "commemoration" that is not about sadness but the "spiritual revolution I witnessed in my brother during our last days together." But the program does not communicate a dour outlook as he enlists the crème de la crème of highly influential musicians to get the job done. The leader's prominent and resonating acoustic bass lines generate the perfect elixir in tandem with drummer Tyshawn Sorey's penetrating polyrhythmic attack, whether band abides by a Laisse- faire gait or when mixing it up within hard bop or off-centered schematics.
They ignite the events with the cool, gusty and forceful mid-tempo waltz "Nod for Nelson," yet render a hearty attack, outlined with soft choruses and snaky unison phrasings on "Skippaningham." Regardless of tempo, the ensemble places emphasis on improvisational invention, largely via trumpeter Adam O'Farrill and saxophonist Ellery Eskelin's shrewdly executed exchanges riding above the rhythm section's power-packed support. Diversity is also a key factor. For example, Sorey vaults into a peppery funk rock groove on "Esquima Dream," leading to the frontline's terse thematic statements that elicit notions of conquest or triumph, evolving into several iterations of the primary hook. No doubt, the band's uncluttered format enables the musicians to articulate a great deal of artistic expressionism. Hence, the recording studio is a mini art-colony. Otherwise, they skirt the fringes of free style avant-garde but not for lengthy durations.
Crump's compositions impart concise and easily expandable storylines, along with his associates who fluently operate through numerous jazz-based modalities, rolling along at a rather appeasing space amid various dips, spikes and intensifying moments.
Nod for Nelson; Grovi; Skippaningham; Loose Boy; Esquima Dream; How Close
Are You; Tschi; Birdwhistle; Pulling Pillars -- Outro for Patty.
Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Stephan Crump: bass;
Tyshawn Sorey: drums.