The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Okkyung Lee / Bill Orcutt: Live at Cafe OTO [VINYL] (Otoroku)

Two string players who have developed distinctive improvisation styles--cellist Okkyung Lee and guitarist Bil Orcutt--meet for their first encounter at London's Cafe Oto, for an exultant and sophisticated duo showing intense skill and strong conversational powers. ... Click to View


Roger Turner / Yukihiro Isso: Takanehishigu [VINYL] (Otoroku)

UK drummer/percussionist Roger Turner in his first meeting with Japanese Noh flutist Yukihiro Isso, an accomplished improviser who has performed with Cecil Taylor, Peter Brotzmann, John Zorn, &c., for a unique and fascinating conversation bridging two traditions. ... Click to View


Asiq Nargile : Yurt Yeri [VINYL] (Otoroku)

Nargile Mehtiyeva aka Asiq Nargile, the only female Asiq living and performing in the ethnic Azeri region of Georgia, performs on the long-neck lute, or saz, accompanying herself on voice, in an ecstatic live performance at London's Cafe Oto in 2014. ... Click to View


Jungle: Mat Walerian / Matthew Shipp / Hamid Drake: Live at Okuden [2 CDs] (ESP)

... Click to View


Brooklyn Express, The (Fonda / Tononi / Cavallanti / Swell / Robertson): No Time Left! (Long Song Records)

Long time collaborators, Italian saxophonist Daniele Cavallanti and drummer Tiziano Tononi, travelled to NYC to record with friends new and old, the results of which are this dynamic free jazz album recorded with Steve Swell (trombone), Herb Robertson (cornet) and Joe Fonda (bass). ... Click to View


Emanuele Parrini : The Blessed Prince (Long Song Records)

Violinist Emanuele Parrini leads his quartet with Dimitiri Grechi Espinoz on alto sax, Giovanni Maier on double bass, and Andrea Melani on drums, performing Parrini's 3 part "The Blessed Prince", and original compositions from bassist Maier; lyrical and innovative modern jazz. ... Click to View


Friction (Akinobu / Minoru / Reck): Zone Tripper (Tzadik)

Friction, one of the most important and longest running underground bands in Japan, is currently the trio of Reck (bass, guitar & vocals), Iami Akinobu (guitar) and Sato Minoru (drums), in a hard-edged album of original songs and remixes; demanding and powerful modern rock. ... Click to View


Nova Express Quintet / John Zorn: Andras: The Book Of Angels Volume 28 (Tzadik)

The 28th release in John Zorn's Book of Angels series, performing the Masada song books in distinct groupings, brings together the all-star NY group of Cyro Baptista, Joey Baron, Trevor Dunn, John Medeski, and Kenny Wollesen blending jazz, Afro-Cuban bop, Exotica, and more. ... Click to View


New Zion Trio & Cyro Baptista: Sunshine Seas [VINYL] (Rarenoise Records)

The third album from Jamie Saft's New Zion Trio with Brad Jones on bass, Craig Santiago on drums, and Vanessa Saft on vocals, finds the trio joined by percussionist Cyro Baptista for an album of compelling dub and grooves with an upbeat spiritual pulse. ... Click to View


David Fiuczynski : Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian Microjam! [VINYL] (Rarenoise Records)

Dedicated to both composer Olivier Messiaen and hip-hop record producer J Dilla, David Fiuczynski uses non-Western tuning to show the connections between exotic bird calls and J Dilla's 'flam beats' while referencing Messiaen, Gagaku, and other Pan-Asian ingredients. ... Click to View


Kuhn / Sewelson / Cleaver / Roland: Our Earth / Our World (pfmentum)

Multi-reediest Peter Kuhn in a trio with saxophonist Dave Sewelson, bassist Larry Roland, and drummer Gerald Cleaver, performing live at Arts For Arts Our Earth/Our World series music series in 2015 for three extended and free improvisations of masterful skill and joy. ... Click to View


Ken Vandermark : Site Specific [2 CDs + BOOK] (Audiographic Records)

2 CDs and a book of photos documenting solo work from Chicago improviser Ken Vandermark performing on clarinet, tenor, and baritone sax in 4 sites--a house, a cavern, a train trestle, and a skate park--dedicating the performances to musicians, Buster Keaton, and Jay Adams. ... Click to View


The Artaud Beats : Logos (Recommended Records)

After performing at Jean-Herve Peron's 2010 Avant Garde Festival, Yumi Hara (keys, violin & voice), Geoff Leigh (winds & electronics), John Greaves (bass & piano) and Chris Cutler (drums & percussion) present their first studio album mixing open-minded composed and improvised music. ... Click to View


Oren Ambarchi / Kassel Jaeger / James Rushford: Pale Calling [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

The first collaboration between Oren Ambarchi, Kassel Jaeger and James Rushford presents two side-long recordings of slowly cycling electronics, distracted vocal mumbles and often unidentifiable field recordings, a layered and mesmerizing haze of obscured audio stratum. ... Click to View


Pascal Battus / Dafne Vicente-Sandoval : [2 CDs] (Potlatch)

An intense and dynamic album of unusual electroacoustic improvisation from the duo of Pascal Battus performing on rotating surfaces, styrofoam, paper, plastic objects, and microphones, and Dafne Vicente-Sandoval performing on bassoon, microphones and mixing board. ... Click to View


Serocki Kazimierz : Pianophonie (Bolt)

Two works for piano and orchestra from Polish composer Kazimierz Serocki, recorded for Polish Radio in Krakow in 1973 with Jerzy Witkowski on piano (Forte e piano) and for Great Polish Radio in Katowice in 1979 with Szablocs Esztenyi on piano ("Pianophonie"). ... Click to View


Barbara Majewska Kinga / Emilia Sitarz: play Franz Schubert Winterreise (Bolt)

Barbara Kinga Majewska and Emilia Sitarz interpret Franz Schubert's "Winterreise" (Winter Journey), a song cycle of 24 poems by Wilhelm Muller, exposing new tensions and new interrelations existing in Schubert's cycle in unexpected and unusual ways. ... Click to View


Joanna Sokolowska Halszka: plays Franz Schubert Winterreise (Bolt)

Vocalist Joanna Halszka Sokolowska interprets Franz Shubert's "Winterreise", a 19th century work setting the poems of Wilhelm Muller to music, recorded in a single take on a winter night in Warsaw, Poland at the Komuna Theater, a fragile and unique take on this famous work. ... Click to View


Antoine Beuger: Keine Fernen Mehr (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Antoine Beuger introduces this album with a short poem by Amy Lowell in reference to the larkspur, in two discs with 17 tracks on each of Beuger whistling, quietly and with a silence and patience of intense concentration emerging from near silence. ... Click to View


Frey . Beuger / Duo Contour : Duos (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

The duo Contour of Stephen Altoff (trumpet) & Lee Forrest Ferguson (percussion) perform Antoine Beuger's "dedekind duos" dedicated to mathematician Julius Wilhelm Richard Dedekind; and Jurg Frey's "22 Sachelchen" or "small things", 22 focused miniature compositions. ... Click to View


Tom Johnson: Counting Keys (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

John McAlpine performs composer Tom Johnson's beautiful piano cycle "Counting Keys", using mathematical progressions to create the structure of its 5 movements; plus 8 parts from his "Organ and Silence for Piano"; and two other compositions using mathematical processes. ... Click to View


Oki Itaru / Leena Circus: Zanshin (Improvising Beings)

The Leena Circus trio of Antoine Letellier on sax, trumpet & guitar, Nicolas Moulin on guitar, and Guillaume Arbonville on drums, joins with trumpeter Itaru Oki for an album of open-ended and downright psychedelic free improvisation, a superb achievement in creative music. ... Click to View


Francois Carrier / Michel Lambert: Kathmandu (FMR)

Originally intended as a trio recording, when the 3rd player missed the Nepal Jazzmandu Jazz Festival, saxophonist Francois Carrier and drummer Michael Lambert carried on as a duo, these recordings from two sets displaying their impressive "freely melodic" approach to improvised music. ... Click to View


Dganit Elyakim : Failing Better (Aural Terrains)

Using electronics and voice, composer & sound artist Gtanit Elyakim presents a diverse set of compositions in collaboration with other acoustic, voice and electronic artists, a superb debut for an artist interested in aspects of the human and the digital paradigm. ... Click to View


Kawaguchi / Olive / Oshiro: Airs (845 Audio)

Using guidelines related to form, time, sound sources and density, the trio of Tim Olive on magnetic pickups, Takahiro Kawaguchi and Makoto Oshiro on self-made instruments, recorded these compositions live, named for the atmosphere of the recording environment. ... Click to View


Howard Stelzer : The Case Against (Monotype)

Howard Stelzer's 6th full-length solo album of composed cassette-tape music, using cassette recording made in New England, fed into a complex set of effect processors, to create a steadily enveloping deep-water/deep-space dive of rich, encompassing sound. ... Click to View


Kamil Szuszkiewicz : Robot Czarek (Bolt)

Using saxophone and electronics in unusual ways, Warszawa composer Kamil Szuszkiewicz's 9 movement "Robot Czarek" is described as a "sound cartoon", using unusual punctuation of voice and effected interactive instrumental interjections to tell his libretto's unusual tale. ... Click to View


Jorge Queijo / Hiroki Chiba / Yoshio Machida: Luminant (Amorfon)

Live recordings of the trio of Yoshio Machida on steelpans and gamelan, Hiroki Chiba on double bass and electronics, and Jorge Queijo on drums & percussion, performing live at Foxhole and Apollo in Tokyo, 2015, free improvisation with Eastern attitudes and European propulsion. ... Click to View


Richard Youngs : plays Parallel Winter (Bolt)

UK guitarist and vocalist Richard Youngs, also on zither, suggested performing his large song work "Parallel Winter" on the first day of his Warszawa tour of Poland, a piece that changes in length based on location and environment, here in an extended and contemplative version. ... Click to View


Baby Rap: Voice Performance By Babies (Amorfon)

Amorfon continues their exploration of the "voice" of babies, started with "Kindermusik: Improvised Music by Babies" and expanded here as 14 babies are recorded in a single take, expressing themselves before the learning of language, volume, timbre and speech intervals. ... Click to View


Email:



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales



  EEwAP+JB(10)  

Ellery Eskelin's Trio with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black Marks 10 Years Together


By Kurt Gottschalk 2004-05-10

Greatness isn't measured on the clock. The Beatles recorded for a scant six years, and - depending on how you slice it - were together for about nine. John Coltrane's "classic quartet" coalesced in 1961 with a line-up that lasted until 1965. And the Sex Pistols changed the world in less than two years.

Marking their tenth anniversary, then, isn't what makes Ellery Eskelin's trio with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black great. But it's a milestone worth marking, and an event the group is celebrating with a new cd (their ninth for the Swiss label HatHut) which finds the trio joined by guitarist Marc Ribot and bassist Melvin Gibbs. Eskelin also shot, edited and released a dvd documenting the band's 2003 European tour. Another tour this year is taking them across the US, to Portugal and then to Quebec, where they'll open the 21st annual Victoriaville festival. If simple longevity didn't make them great, hard work, regular recording and annual trips across America and Europe did.

Ellery Eskelin with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black (as they are properly billed - "I really think 'Ellery Eskelin Trio' is way too polite for this band," Eskelin said) made its first public appearance on March 20, 1994, at the old Knitting Factory on Houston Street in lower Manhattan. On the heels of a more traditional line-up with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Phil Haynes, Eskelin had a particular new sound for which he was searching.

"When I put my band together, I was really looking for an accordionist," he said. At the time, he was intrigued with some European players - including Hans Hassler and Jean-Louis Matinier - but was interested in finding someone in the States. He drew up a list, he said, but Andrea Parkins kept coming up as he talked to other musicians.

He was already playing with Black ("Jim I had met somewhat before that time," he said - "We got together in late '93 and I just dug the sound immediately."), when he went to hear Parkins play with Ikue Mori at New York City's Roulette. In adding her to the line-up, he got someone who was already versed in keyboards, sampler, organ and piano as well. "I decided to use that because it was obviously a strong part of her thing," he said. "Her approach is not idiomatically jazz-oriented, so to get her to play things that go in that direction, you get some really interesting results."

From the beginning, he said, he had in mind forming a working unit.

"I was thinking of it as a band for sure," Eskelin said. "I knew it was going to be more than just a one-time project. Given the instrumentation, I think it surprised people when we did more than a couple of gigs and made more than one record. In the beginning, I might have seen three records as a reasonable achievement."

Parkins recalled approaching that first performance with apprehension and excitement.

"I remember the night," she said. "It was packed. I don't know if it was packed because of us or because John Zorn played after us. I wasn't sure what he was after, and I wasn't sure I could make it work. In order to make Ellery's music work, there's something tranformational that happens, there's a kind of sense of the moment. I remember thinking, 'I think this is good, but I'm not sure.'"

The trio soon reached Eskelin's three-record "reasonable achievement" and went well beyond. Their first release, Jazz Trash, issued by Songlines in 1994, was interesting for the instrumentation, but showed little of what the band would become.

"I've gone back and listened to that and thought, 'Yeah, that's definitely a first record by a band with a concept," Eskelin said. "It's not like the band got better; it changed. But I don't think I could go back and improve on Jazz Trash. I'm thrilled with that record. I think all the records are different enough to warrant having made them. It's more about documenting the changes and not a trajectory of getting better and better and better. Jazz Trash had a certain charm to it. It was kind of rickety in some ways, but I love that sound."

Soon after, they began a fruitful relationship with Hat Hut, and perhaps there is the argument for what makes a band thrive for a decade. With funding initially from the Swiss Bank Corporation and then private sponsorship from the furniture company Vitra and its chairman Rolf Fehlbaum, the band was able to work with some promise of a future, essentially a five-year recording and touring contract starting in 1998 - something unusual in the current jazz market. While such a relationship undoubtedly helped the band create and work toward a vision, securing that relationship, according to drummer Black, was another part of Eskelin's talent.

"He is really good at getting people to do handshakes and getting things done," Black said. "It's been very good for the band."

At first, the band was trying to find the sound Eskelin heard, something based on his love of old gutsy saxophone and organ trios but with challenging arrangements and mutations.

"It was a question of what exactly was this music we were playing," said Black. "I mean, it sounded good on paper, it made sense right away, but I was like 'OK, how can we do this?' There's a combination of elements that you've not quite heard before, and that's exciting."

For Parkins, the energy and overt emotions, the jazziness of the heads in Eskelin's compositions, were a surprise.

"He has charts that reek of majorness," she said. "I remember being really freaked out about it. I thought, 'Is this good?' It felt like too much flavor, corny.

"Right now, I think we're a great pop band," she added. "There's a lot of heartfelt, thematic, uncynical chord progressions that happen with a sense of rhythm. It is a tension and it works really well."

As they've grown into their sound, the band has worked backwards in a sense, from working through charts to employing more improvisation. 12 + (1) Imaginary Views, released in 2001, was the group's first all-improv outing. A new record, with guitarist Marc Ribot and bassist Melvin Gibbs, is due out later this year.

"Each idea [on Imaginary Views] was real simple: OK we're gonna start an improv, but during that improvisation I want this to happen," Eskelin said. "Like "Middle C," it's just a middle C on the staff. I think when I showed it to them, they laughed at me. It was the first time I said, 'Here's the material and I'm not going to arrange it.'"

"Middle C" might epitomize the trio's sympatico. The track opens with Eskelin's soulful playing, some scattered percussion and a sort of synthesized gong from Parkins. A drum roll and a swell of sound from the keyboard, a moment of organ and in about 90 seconds they find the piece, a nervously building trichotomy. Parkins overlays accordion, Black gets busier, drops out and returns. Just before the four-minute mark, they settle into a succinct, logical ending.

"We're thinking about middle C and we drop in and out," said Black. "I think it's a really good piece. The simplest idea could be a whole world in itself, given to the right people."

The piece is a tight piece of music, almost - as Parkins might put it - a pop song. It sounds as if it could have been a full score, but it's really just the work of a band that knows how to play together.

"I do admire the whole idea of having a band," he said. "I like one-offs - the first time I played with Han Bennink we shook hands five minutes before we hit the stage."

But that kind of spontaneity, he said, is a very different thing than the relationships built over years of playing together. He cites as an example NRBQ, the wide-ranging countrified blues and jazz group formed by Terry Adams in 1967. Eskelin had the chance to play with them recently at Brooklyn's Northsix.

"From the first few notes of the soundcheck, the feel was just awesome," he said. I thought this was the real thing. There's no other way to get that except for just being on the road constantly. And it was just as loose as any jazz gig I've been involved in. I realized that's a band, and what a wonderful thing to have bands out there."

Eskelin was raised in a musical household, listening to Gene Ammons (to whom he later paid tribute on the excellent The Sun Died with Marc Ribot and Kenny Wollesen), Stan Getz and Sonny Stitt as a child. Later, he discovered Coltrane's Giant Steps, and then Interstellar Space, which he described as a "revelation." But the music in the house wasn't just coming from the record player.

"I grew up listening to my mother play Hammond B-3 organ," he said. "When I was 10 years old, I decided I wanted to play saxophone and be a jazz musician."

But when Eskelin moved to New York in 1983, he found the old-school approach of woodshedding and auditioning for heroes was disappearing.

"You don't have apprenticeships anymore," he said. "I remember going to sit in with Art Blakely and trying to get noticed, and I just had to go and do my own thing. I got pieces of that, but I realized things were different. The 10-year-old kid who wanted to play jazz and had his idols never really got satisfaction. By the time I was on the scene, a lot of those people were dead and there were lots and lots of young saxophone players."

Instead he built his own house, playing with his contemporaries (notably with Joey Baron's Baron Down with Steve Swell) and started making tracks as a leader. He was named one of "25 for the Future" by Downbeat in 1999 and the trio was described in the British newspaper The Guardian as a band that "knows how to play simultaneously from the head and the heart, and for whom musical risk-taking has become a way of life."

The group brings in guests occasionally, as with the new project with Ribot and Gibbs or their ongoing collaboration with vocalist Jessica Constable. But they never uses substitute members, ensuring a consistency in sound. Still, that sound always has its origins in Eskelin's pen. They've recorded pieces by Monk, John McLaughlin, Lennie Tristano, Charlie Haden, Coltrane, Gershwin and even Eugene Chadbourne, but even with two other composers in the band, the songbook is written by the leader.

"I haven't thought about that really" Black said, when asked about bringing his own compositions to the group. "Ellery's never asked and I've never suggested. We're already bringing our music in every time. We don't need to mess it up with more charts."

Parkins concurred. "I think Ellery would be open to it, but [Jim and I] both have our own outlets," she said. "It's really been about Ellery's vision, but he gives us so much room.

"It's engaging on every level, and what could be better than that?" she added. "I think it's really rare that you get to do that in your professional life. The only thing that's not challenging is how we get along, and that's good."

It's a chemistry that would seem to ensure if not another decade at least plenty of time on the road in the years to come.

"I don't take it for granted that it's going to last forever," he said. "Every year that it goes on, I say, 'Hey, great!'

"It's still challenging, it's still developing," he added. "There's a lot more there than you would think given that instrumentation. I has more to do with the people than the instruments."

And it's a safe guess those people will be along for the ride.

""I'm not in a rush to stop," Parkins said. "So far he seems excited about continuing. If he's there, I'm there."






To discuss this article click here





The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco



The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2014 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (158)