Nathan Eklund is based in New York City, where he leads two bands: the Nathan Eklund Group and the Nathan Eklund Quintet. This gives him the leeway to cast his music in different streams and to interpret it in the manner that suits his compositions. Eklund has also been part of projects by Craig Yaremko, Eddie Daniels, Richie Cole, Joe Lovano, and Kermit Driscoll. This involvement calls for an approach that sits in with the wide ranging styles of the performers. Eklund has not only adapted himself to the calling, he has also turned these experiences inward to give his music a concentrated range and depth.
Eklund's band of musicians serve the occasion well. They have a sense of understanding that elevates the music both in their individual improvisations and collective journey.
The quintet finds its groove right off on the bop permutations of "Toboggan Ride." Eklund plays with brightly resonating phrases that are bouncy and lithe. The elastic pulse is driven by drummer, Tim Horner and bassist, Bill Moring as John Hart continues to stoke the flames on guitar. When Donny McCaslin comes in with his brawny and curling tenor saxophone the impact is slam-bang on.
The tempo is pulled back for "Hand Picked From Her Garden." Eklund is emotive and elevates the pulse of the composition. When he turns it around, his confident articulation enriches the theme. As for McCaslin, he is at home raising the heat with bristling notes that spike and roar.
"South Chelan" is a happy hunting ground for improvisation. The quintet breaks the mold of the composition, giving creativity new breeding space. Eklund's acknowledges the lush melody before he wraps it around in pungent blasts. The intensity is sustained by the five in tandem and then comes McCaslin who shows there are no boundaries to dimension as he breaks lines and reinvents them into startling new bodies.
Eklund hammers home his credentials as a player and a composer emphatically. His music crosses different terrains and he comes to grips with them, playing with determination and inventiveness. Here, he has a band to aid and abet and give this CD a punch.
Toboggan Ride; Passing Trains; Hand Picked from Her Garden; South Chelan; Trip to the Casbah, Part 1; Trip to the Casbah, Part 2; Long Lake; Happiness Is...; Big Bro
Nathan Eklund: trumpet, flugelhorn; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; John Hart: guitar; Bill Moring: bass; Tim Horner: drums.