John Escreet - Exception to the Rule (Criss Cross, 2011)
British expatriate pianist and composer John Escreet has made quite a name for himself as a leader and a sideman, recording for Davis Binney's Mythology Records and also the Dutch Criss Cross label. On this album he takes a shifting approach to the jazz paradigm, adding spots of electronics and breaking up his longer improvisations with small vignettes. On this session of original compositions recorded on January 19, 2011 in Brooklyn, Escreet is accompanied by David Binney on saxophone and electronics, Eivind Opsvik on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. The opening track Exception to the Rule" has rolling drums and piano, developing into a strong and vibrant saxophone solo at a fast tempo. An intense full band section develops led by wild saxophone and drums. Collapse" has an open feel with the piano trio developing an spacious vibe. The group contrasts light and dark before Binney enters late, probing and developing his statement to intense fever pitch. The full quartet develops fast off the blocks on Escape Hatch" with a fine collective improvisational section moving to an open area of saxophone and drums. This is a very dynamic performance revealing a choppy abstract middle section using electronic flourishes, before pulling things together for a fast wrap up. Percussive piano and saxophone swirls build the template of The Water Is Tasting Worse" where Binney takes control and builds to a potent and complex solo. Escreet wrestles control back with a fine percussive piano solo. Wayne's World" wraps up the album with the leaders piano developing a very nice foundation for the performance. Binney enters, building an enigmatic solo akin to that of Wayne Shorter whom I assume the composition is dedicated to. The music shifts dramatically between fast saxophone focused sections and slower more ruminative piano interludes. This album worked quite well, John Excreet is able to demonstrate his compositional prowess while at the same time incorporating elements of technology which increase the palette of the music. The band is rock solid throughout and makes an emphatic statement.