Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ellery Eskelin w/ Andrea Parkins and Jim Black - One Great Night... Live (HatHut, 2009)

The difficulties of playing progressive jazz in the modern economy keeps most working groups from sticking together for more than a few years. That is one of the reasons it is so impressive that this trio is celebrating their fifteen year anniversary with their first live album, recorded in Baltimore in late 2007. Ellery Eskelin solos with wonderful imagination on tenor saxophone throughout. Andrea Parkins has a very exciting role in the group by supporting, commenting, adding texture with keyboards and accordion and the plethora of sounds she can use through the sampler. Jim Black keeps the pace, sometimes with a rock like back beat, sometimes as broken pulse of free improvisation. This is an excellent album, "The Decider" opens it shifting between tempos and dynamics so it is never predictable. "For No Good Reason" breaks out into freer, more abstract territory with Parkins bouncing back and forth between repetitive piano chords and sampler squiggles around start - stop drumming and stirring tenor saxophone playing. "Coordinated Standard Time" has a fun and slightly bent take on the organ/tenor sax/drums soul jazz tradition."Split the Difference" is a highlight, with storming tenor sax around sweeping accordion and a nice drum solo. "Instant Counterpoint" shifts dynamically between loud and soft areas and moving into some very exciting free sections. "Half a Chance" builds to the conclusion with some tough and soulful playing in the sax/organ/drums configuration. The music on this album is never stale but constantly evolving, much like the group itself. Each of the three musicians also has a number of musical projects they do outside the group, so they are continually bringing new information and sounds to the table. Is fifteen more years of great music too much to ask?
OGNL Liner Notes

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