British pianist and composer John Escreet moved to New York City in 2006 and quickly gained attention and gigs with the likes of Chris Potter, Seamus Blake and David Binney. This album, in fact, comes on Binney's own record label and has the alto saxophonist along with Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Matt Brewer on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums developing a set of mostly Escreet originals. "Civilization on Trial" opens the album with a serious medium tempo feel. Choppy horns develop an urgent and complex improvisation, out of which Binney develops an exciting and dramatic solo, playing with a deep questing energy. After a free sounding piano trio interlude the song ends with a swirl of electronics processing. "Don't Fight the Inevitable" opens slowly like a flower in bloom, developing speed as Binney breaks out again with a tart solo which has echoes of Jackie McLean and Eric Dolphy in its acerbic tone. Strong bass and drums drive the intensity to a very impressive level, before the music breathes out and Akinmusire develops a fast and nimble solo of his own over markedly lighter accompaniment. The vertical nature of the improvisation is evident on "Magic Chemical (For the Future)" which moves from eddys and streams of piano notes to a twisting and knotty section for saxophone and trumpet. After a fast and skittish piano trio, Binney develops an increasingly rapid, swirling solo. The music is not all in an intense freebop vein however, as "Soundscape" is much like the name implies with subtle electronic processing altering Escreet's darkly shaded piano for a dream-like effect. "Charlie in the Parker" includes clips of Parker's own voice speaking about his musical philosophy over the band's aubtle backdrop for a memorable experimental track. The ballad "Gone But Not Forgotten" is a simple and haunting duet for alto saxophone and piano, which is spacious and subtle throughout. The album concludes with "Avaricious World" which is a haunting suite like performance with a narrative that moves through several sections of passionate sequences, including a muted yet potent drum solo. This was a thought provoking and enjoyable album, Escreet has some very interesting ideas about composition and arrangement on this album and Binney plays some of the strongest saxophone that I have heard from him yet, really reaching and stretching for the music. These musicians are taking a fresh look at jazz and making some interesting and original statements in the process. Don't Fight the Inevitable - amazon.com
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Jack DeJohnette - Made in Chicago (ECM, 2015) *****
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