Thursday, June 30, 2011

John Escreet – The Age We Live in (Mythology Records, 2011)

With each new release, keyboardist and composer John Escreet has become more adventurous in his outlook toward music. This is his most diverse album yet, hinting at modern fusion while remaining true to his post-bop roots. Performing with him is a stellar lineup including David Binney on alto saxophone and electronics, Wayne Krantz on guitar, Marcus Gilmore on drums, plus a few special guests. After a brief introductory statement, electronics and electric piano begin “The Domino Effect” which builds with the help of a scalding guitar solo, and an interesting section of saxophone and electronics. Funk is an element of a few of the compositions on this album, namely “Half Baked,” “Kickback” and “Stand Clear” which take the music in a fun and accessible direction, with some strutting horn work along with nimble electric piano weaving with guitar. The epic title song “The Age We Live In” develops a mysterious feel, with extra horns riffing behind Binney’s alto saxophone, then gradually adding electronics and guitar for a complex improvisation that accurately reflects the modern age. “A Day in Music” is a milder ballad featuring melodic saxophone and deeply textured electric piano. The sax solo builds patiently before handing off to guitar and building to a conclusion. Escreet’s acoustic piano chops are spotlighted on the short tracks “Hidden Beauty” and “As the Moon Disappears” which set up spare and at times spooky mix of electric and acoustic music. This was a taught and enjoyable album with consistently interesting writing and performing. Blending a diverse mix of influences, the group builds a formidable statement. The Age We Live In -

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