162

Ellery Eskelin: Ten

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Ellery Eskelin: Ten It would have been way too predictable if tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin had celebrated the tenth anniversary of his trio with accordionist/pianist/sampler player Andrea Parkins and drummer Jim Black by putting together another record like the seven they have already made. He's never been one to rest comfortably with the safe and sure—and to be honest, there's never been anything either safe or sure about his work with Parkins and Black, which is the reason they've remained a group to watch.

But Ten is an adventure into a new sort of uncharted territory. Eskelin recruited three players to join his longstanding improvising trio: vocalist Jessica Constable, electric bassist Melvin Gibbs, and electric guitarist Marc Ribot. They appear in various combinations from duo to sextet, and each of the twelve tracks is freely improvised.

In the process of throwing away the safety net, Eskelin opens his music to the influences of his new partners. The heavy bass-drum groove of "More Than That" hints at Ornette Coleman's Prime Time, but it's far less regular and constantly shifts foundations. As the piece develops, Eskelin's playing seems to connect the dots, working through measured, oblique phrases that accent rather than accentuate the pulse. His duet with Constable on "Tell Me When" matches their slightly craggy timbres in an abstract lyrical counterpoint. Constable's vibrato-rich delivery plays out in interesting ways against Eskein's floating, understated commentary. Both grasp for resolution, but it remains elusively out of reach.

The two tracks that feature the regular trio in isolation, "Anyone's Guess" and "Say It Again," stand in dramatic contrast. The former is a noisy, backbeat-driven opus (and it's a pleasure to hear Black ride roughshod over Parkins' insistent chordal energy), the latter a more amorphous exploration where time passes in gulps rather than readily discernable marked subdivisions. All six players appear on the longest two pieces, which are made more abstract and complex with the addition of the extra variables. Black's flexibility and adaptability is key to keeping the ball rolling through most of the higher-density performances, which retain due respect for each player's space.

Ten seems more like a detour than a new direction for Eskelin, to the extent it's unlikely you'll hear these configurations on record again. The freely improvised nature of the recording makes it all the more off the beaten path. It's to his credit that he continues to take risks like this, but I still prefer his regular trio work with Parkins and Black. Maybe it's the personalities involved, or the incredible amount of time they've spent working together, or the way they often maneuver as a unit within a compositional framework. Probably all three. Still, it's hard to complain about the top-caliber musicianship heard on Ten.

Visit Ellery Eskelin on the web and check out a recent AAJ review of his 2003 European Tour Diary .


Track Listing: If Not Now; Tell me When; Anyone's Guess; Say it Again; Ask to Be; More Than That; Anywhere, Not Here; If So; Ask Me Why; No Illusions; I Couldn't Say; Take Me.

Personnel: Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Andrea Parkins: piano, accordion, sampler; Jim Black: drums, percussion; Jessica Constable: voice; Melvin Gibbs: electric bass; Marc Ribot: electric guitar.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Hatology | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Trio New York II
Prime Source Recordings
2013
buy
Mirage
Prime Source Recordings
2013
buy
Jazz Festival...
Prime Source Recordings
2012
buy
Dirigo Rataplan
Prime Source Recordings
2012
buy
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Evan Parker Evan Parker
sax, tenor
Paul Bley Paul Bley
piano
Fred Anderson Fred Anderson
saxophone
Tim Berne Tim Berne
saxophone
Steve Lacy Steve Lacy
sax, soprano
Joe McPhee Joe McPhee
reeds
Ken Vandermark Ken Vandermark
saxophone
David S. Ware David S. Ware
sax, tenor

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Laughing At Life" CD/LP/Track Review Laughing At Life
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Never Group" CD/LP/Track Review Never Group
by Mark F. Turner
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "More Serious Business" CD/LP/Track Review More Serious Business
by Jeff Winbush
Published: March 6, 2016
Read "Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Paris
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 16, 2016
Read "Ena / One" CD/LP/Track Review Ena / One
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!