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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ellery Eskelin - Trio New York (Prime Source, 2011) ***½

By Stef

Well, I forgot about this album when giving an overview of recent albums with Gerald Cleaver on drums, here in a trio led by tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and with Gary Versace on Hammond B3 organ. The album is dedicated to Eskelin's mother Bobby Lee, who played the organ herself.

The trio takes on five standards, including "Memories Of You", "Off Minor" and "How Deep Is The Ocean", so deeply rooted in jazz history while giving it all a real forward-looking approach. The playing is excellent, as you might expect from three such musicians. The reference to the old music and the use of the Hammond B3 create a somewhat outdated sound at moments, and even if that's the intention, the result remains a matter of taste. To be honest, I don't like the sound of the organ, at least not how it's played here. And because of the material, and the dedication, it is all a little too nice and sweet.

But the playing is excellent. Eskelin's round tone feels like a soft warm breeze in summer, Cleaver adds crispiness to it, while the organ adds a heavy ballroom dancing atmosphere. A strange album.

Decoy & Joe McPhee - Oto (Bo Weavil, 2010) ***½

This is another Hammond B3 free jazz album that's been lying here for a while. The British trio Decoy, with Alexander Hawkins on organ, Steve Noble on drums and John Edwards on bass are joined by the great Joe McPhee. The performance was recorded live at the Café Oto in London.

The music is of a totally different nature than the Eskelin album, full of raw power and energy, with the organ more used to create volume and density and sonic contrasts than melody. The trio create the perfect storm for McPhee to feel comfortable in, blowing his usual Ayleresque combination of spirituality and force, yet fitting in quite well with the overall sound.

Great fun.

Listen and download from eMusic.

© stef


Jeffro said...

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