HARRIS EISENSTADT – The All Seeing Eye + Octets


Composer and drummer Harris Eisenstadt has been recently featured in many amongst the most satisfying jazz-oriented projects on the U.S scene, and this record confirms that his young age – he was born in 1975 – belies his flourishing maturity as a composer and arranger. One of Eisenstadt’s main influences is Wayne Shorter’s “The all seeing eye”, thus he decided to pay homage to that album with a new version “by re-imagining it with new forms and different instrumentation”, assembling an impressive group of musicians including Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Andrew Pask and Brian Walsh (both on clarinet and bass clarinet), Daniel Rosenboom (trumpet), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), Scott Walton (contrabass). Eisenstadt reports that his intention was to create something like “open-ended chamber music with grooves” (which he beautifully achieves in “Face of the deep”, featuring a splendid solo by Schoenbeck) but the result is unquestionably jazz of the finest blend, with the right amount of time and space given to all the performers to shine, inventively executed themes and a rhythm section where the leader and Walton fuse their multiple-idiom knowledge to create a basis for the smooth resolution of any inconvenience that might have happened, and of course didn’t. Exploiting the potential of his partners in full, Eisenstadt decided to put reduced versions of his large ensemble pieces “Without roots” and “What we were told” to tape in the same day. Here they’re presented in forms of octets conducted by Marc Lowenstein and played by the same musicians, with Aaron Smith as a second trumpet. The first is a semi-tonal contrapuntal network without loci classici of sorts, “non cantabile” for its large part but still containing a few unballasted riffs and improvisations that could put feet in motion, provided that you’re familiar with odd metres. Instead, the fifteen minutes plus of the second octet sound like if the pages of the score had been scattered around by the wind, found after a long search and hastily positioned in a different order, which produced a better music than the original. Here, too, Eisenstadt’s command of sonic languages runs parallel to the methods that he applies to deliver them from the locks of commonplace, his snappy drumming adding meaty substance to an already robust piece which oddly ends with the most memorizable (so to speak) melodies of the whole CD.


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