Pianist and composer Rachel Eckroth travels a twisty road on this CD, creating an ever-changing mix of jazz, prog rock, and fusion which utilizes off- center beats and swarming electronic effects.
Eckroth's music is a little different on each track. Sometimes it builds up from layers of piano and synthesizers. At other times it works out of the basic piano trio format. Everything she creates, though, has an edgy, ominous atmosphere which lends itself as much to dark pop sounds as it does jazz improvisation. The agitated "Low Hanging Fruit" is mostly a combination of jagged piano riffs and quick-firing drums by Christian Euman while "Dried Up Roots" is a vocal piece with a desolate melody and echoing atmosphere which fits Eckroth's soulfully haunted singing.
Several tracks benefit from the added presence of saxophonist Donny McCaslin who has worked in a similar strain of cranky electric jazz- rock. He blows hard tenor against the sweeping synthesizer sounds and prickly beats of "Dracaena," adds soothing flute to the airy flow of "The Garden," and folds nicely overall into the electronic breeziness of "Black Eyed Susan" and crushing prog heaviness of "Oil."
Eckroth proves to be just as inventive when working in a conventional small group configuration as she is on the more elaborate pieces. "Vines" is a trio track where her keyboard playing evokes the hip freedom of Paul Bley's electric experiments, over a lively rhythmic jog provided by Euman and bassist Tim Lefebvre. On "Under A Fig Tree" the trio lays down a relentless climbing beat while Andrew Krasilnikov's soprano sax blows warily but passionately over them.
Rachel Eckroth's music has many facets to it. Its atmosphere, moodiness, and basic rhythmic sense make for an eclectic and attractive stew of varied sounds. It has a haunting presence which lingers in your head and is fun to listen to.
Dracena; Under the Fig Tree; Low Hanging Fruit; Dried Up Roots; The Garden; Black Eyed Susan; Vines; Oil.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.