John Escreet – Sound, Space and Structures (2014)

Anglo-American outside jazz achieve near-perfect symmetry and empathy when pianist John Escreet expands his trio with the great Evan Parker. Sound, Space and Structures is a union of an English-born hotshot piano player whose career is on the rise and one of the elder statesmen of progressive UK jazz, saxophonist Evan Parker. An all-star Yankee rhythm section of John Hébert (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums) complete this temporary but potent quartet. Following a memorable evening at John Zorn’s The Stone club, the four went into the studio to recreate that experience, whereby some performances are varying combinations of duos and the rest are the full quartet together.

Sound, Space and Structures, out May 13, 2014 through Sunnyside Records, is temporal, visceral, and unpredictable; things that are achieved in different ways. First, those duos: “Part I” is an Escreet/Sorey collision, with Escreet’s two fisted attack on the ivories calls to mind Don Pullen’s rougher side. “Part II” pairs the other two of the four for the most part, and Parker’s signature trill makes a great companion to Hébert’s barren bass pulses.

A summit meeting of two talented Brits convenes for “Part V,” which is diffused and tentative at first. Once Escreet sets the table, though, Parker feasts on it with his signature circular breathing. “Part VIII” shows the extent that these musicians willing to put emotion above naked technique; Sorey’s soft patters portray a sense of foreboding throughout the whole performance, with only a single, one chord release by Escreet to break the tension.

The ensemble pieces offer some twists, too. For “Part IV,” Escreet plucks the strings of his piano, making a most intriguing resonance, as Parker and Hébert ruminate. When Escreet picks up the pace, the others follow his lead. “Part IX” behaves like a spring weather event: Evans, Sorey and Hébert conjure up a thunderstorm that dissipates into Escreet’s light showers. And “Part VII” is the one composition where there are several threads weaving together to make a rich fabric.

In breaking the music down to the elemental parts named in the album title, Sound, Space and Structures is a meeting of generations that’s also a meeting of the minds. Visit John Escreet’s website for more info.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is a CPA and mid-level data analyst 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. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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