A mercurial and beautiful record from the trio led by tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, with pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and bassist Michael Formaneck with a unique, introspective and lovely group sound.
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Label: Clean Feed
Catalog ID: CF 271
Squidco Product Code: 17675
Packaging: Cardstock gatefold foldover
Recorded on November 9th, 2011 at the Towson University Fine Arts Center in Baltimore, Maryland by Ed Tetreault.
Ellery Eskelin-tenor saxophone
Susan Alcorn-pedal steel guitar
Michael Formanek-double bass
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1. Rain Shadow 5:50
2. Meridian 6:22
3. Divergence 4:28
4. Saturation 4:49
5. Absolute Zero 3:43
6. Refraction 3:28
7. Occlusion 5:17
8. Downburst 27:21
9. Mirage 5:33
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sample the album:
"Listeners have come to expect the unexpected from tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, especially with respect to the musical settings in which he places himself. His long-running group with accordionist Andrea Parkins and beat-oriented drummer Jim Black may have seemed strange in it's beginnings but over time their logic became clear and the strange began to seem normal, even necessary. With his new working group "Trio New York" Eskelin delivers the unexpected even in this more traditional lineup with Hammond B-3 recycler Gary Versace and another innovator of the drum-kit, Gerald Cleaver.
With Mirage Eskelin presents us with another "unique" formula, this time combining his modern (yet impressively well informed) tenor sound with Susan Alcorn's ethereal pedal steel guitar and Michael Formanek's grounded acoustic double bass. This top-flight veteran tenor saxophonist continues to take risks and open new frontiers in jazz-based improvisation, even beyond the issue of instrumentation - for instance, his tone, phrasing and melodic conception is completely his own, even as he is keenly aware of the history and tradition associated with his instrument. The concept behind Mirage rests squarely with Eskelin as well, yet as with each of his past projects, the group sound is equally defined by the personalities of each musician. Alcorn's contribution in this new proposal is key. No country & western / jazz fusion here, but instead a clever, fresh, luminous reinvention of an instrument and its vocabulary. Bassist Formanek's contribution is equally essential, giving the music much of it's warmth and expansive reach."-Clean Feed Records
• Show Bio for Susan Alcorn
"Susan Alcorn (born 1953) is an American composer, improvisor, and pedal steel guitarist. Having started out playing guitar at the age of twelve, she quickly immersed herself in folk music, blues, and the pop music of the 1960s. A chance encounter with blues musician Muddy Waters steered her towards playing slide guitar. By the time she was twenty-one, she had immersed herself in the pedal steel guitar, playing in country and western swing bands in Texas.
Soon, she began to combine the techniques of country-western pedal steel with her own extended techniques to form a personal style influenced by free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and various folk musics of the world. By the early 1990s her music began to show an influence of the holistic and feminist "deep listening" philosophies of Pauline Oliveros.
Though mostly a solo performer, Alcorn has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Joe Giardullo, Caroline Kraabel, Earl Howard, Le Quan Ninh, Sean Meehan, Joe McPhee, LaDonna Smith, Mike Cooper, Walter Daniels, Ellen Fullman, Jandek, George Burt, Janel Leppin, Michael Formanek, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Maggie Nicols, Evan Parker, Johanna Varner, Zane Campbell and Mary Halvorson."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Alcorn)
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• Show Bio for Michael Formanek
"One marker of bassist Michael Formanek's creativity and versatility is the range of distinguished musicians of several generations he's worked with. While still a teenager in the 1970s he toured with drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Joe Henderson; starting in the '80s he played long stints with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Fred Hersch and Freddie Hubbard. (As a callback to those days, Formanek recorded with hardbop pianist Freddie Redd in 2013). The bassist has played a pivotal role on New York's creative jazz scene going back to the '90s when he notably led his own quintet and played in Tim Berne's barnstorming quartet Bloodcount. Nowadays Formanek's in the co-op Thumbscrew with Brooklyn guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.
Formanek is also a composer and leader of various bands. His principal recording and international touring vehicle is his acclaimed quartet with Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums, which records for ECM; 2010's The Rub and Spare Change and 2012's Small Places both earned coveted five-star raves in Down Beat. Formanek writes, and the quartet plays, compositions of great rhythmic sophistication that unfold in a natural sounding way - challenging music the players make sound like lyrical free expression. His occasional groups include the 18-piece all-star Ensemble Kolossus, roping in many New York improvisers he works with. Ensemble Kolossus recorded their first CD of all Formanek originals for the prestigious ECM label in December of 2014. The CD, The Distance was released in February 2016 and in addition to numerous other accolades also received a five-star review in Downbeat!
Formanek's other recordings as leader include Wide Open Spaces and Extended Animation for quintet and Low Profile and Nature of the Beast for seven players (all on Enja), and the solo album Am I Bothering You? (Screwgun). Mirage (Clean Feed) is by the occasional improvising trio of Formanek, tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn. Thumbscrew's 2014 debut is on Cuneiform Records. Michael Formanek has also made dozens of recordings as sideman, for among others Dave Ballou, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Dave Burrell, Harold Danko, Marty Ehrlich, Tomas Fujiwara, Gary Thomas and Jack Walrath.
As composer of works for ensembles from duo to mixed jazz and classical orchestra, Michael Formanek has received institutional support from Chamber Music America, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Peabody Conservatory, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. As an educator, Formanek teaches bass and other jazz courses, and leads the Jazz Ensemble at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory."-Michael Formanek Website (http://www.amibotheringyou.com/bio.html)
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