Half Notes: Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day II (2011)

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The Toronto-derived drummer, composer and bandleader Harris Eisenstadt was described by The New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen as taking a “fixer’s approach to music making, looking for ways to fit the pieces together,” and while I agree with the praise he and others have heaped on Eisenstadt, I see the man more as a demolition specialist. For his second album with his Canada Day quintet and ninth release overall, Canada Day II is marked by very non-jazz rhythms and melodies as defined by himself and bassist Eivind Opsvik, constantly clashing against the advanced bop modalities of Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Matt Bauder (tenor saxophone) and Nate Wooley (trumpet). The rubbing together of the two opposing forces creates the sparks that makes the music often creative and sometimes unpredictable.

Dingman’s cerebral vibes is partly responsible for this, but the swaying back and forth between hard bop and avant garde by the front line players on tunes like “Cobble Hook,” “To Eh” and especially the sprawling “To See/Tootie” reminds me a lot of Bobby Hutcherson’s first albums. Meanwhile, that rhythm section evokes The Vandermark 5 or even another Chicago group, the post-rock monsters Tortoise, especially on less jazz-like numbers like “Now Longer” and “To Seventeen.” Not everything has to be edgy in Eisenstadt’s world, though, and “Song For Owen,” written for his newborn son, is a charming, nostalgic melody that avoids being overly-baroque by some synergistic interplay between Wooley and Bauder.

Canada Day II went on sale April 12 courtesy of Songlines Recordings. Drop in on Harris’ website over here.

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Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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