Album Review

Eskelin, Ellery – “Quiet Music ” – [prime source]

Max Level   12/12/2006   CD, Jazz

Eskelin is a NY saxophonist whose music seems to be coming from some weird netherworld intersection of jazz and improvisation. His longish compositions are ever-changing and unpredictable, with a surprise always around the next corner. He has used the same basic trio lineup (with Andrea Parkins on accordion/keyboards/sampler, and Jim Black on drums/percussion) as his main vehicle for about a decade now. Although Eskelin is the composer/bandleader, all three members have a lot of say in what happens. Black’s off-balance syncopations and Parkins’ unusual chord voicings push the music this way and that, giving Eskelin a robust, though nearly always odd, foundation for his tenor sax flights. On this CD, a fourth musician, vocalist Jessica Constable, is heavily featured, providing some of the most compelling aspects of the ensemble sound. She uses jazz inflections and flirts with strange vocal sounds, while delivering things that could be lyrics but really aren’t; it’s wordless ‘sound-language’ vocal improv and let me tell you it’s far out. She does sing actual lyrics in French on CD2 track 6. Another guest, Phillipe Gelda, also sings in French there and adds keyboards to a handful of the tracks. There are tons of interesting ideas here, and Eskelin should definitely be included in any list of today’s first-rate avant-jazz composer/bandleaders.

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