|Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek, Susan Alcorn — Mirage (2013)|
Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek, Susan Alcorn — Mirage
÷÷ A mercurial and beautiful record from the trio led by tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, with pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and bassist Michael Formaneck with a unique, introspective and lovely group sound.
÷÷ "Mirage makes the most of its unique palette of instruments and personalities. At this stage, we know well the high quality that can be expected of a project when Eskelin and Formanek are involved. And, though she’s certainly no stranger to some of the big names in free improvisation these days, hopefully this Clean Feed release will raise Susan Alcorn’s profile with fans of this music, too". — Dan Sorrells
÷÷ Tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin was born in Wichita, KS, in 1959. He was raised in a musical home in Baltimore, MD, by his mother, Bobbie Lee, who played Hammond B-3 organ and led her own jazz groups...
Born: August 16, 1959 in Wichita, KANSAS
Styles: Avant-Garde Jazz/Modern Creative
Also known as: Ellery Lane Eskelin
Member of: Ellery Eskelin with Andrea Parkins & Jim Black, Gerry Hemingway Quartet, Open Loose
Location: Baltimore, MD ~ New York City, NY, U.S.
Album release: August 14, 2013
Record Label: Clean Feed (CF271CD)
01 Rain Shadow 5:50
02 Meridian 6:22
03 Divergence 4:28
04 Saturation 4:49
05 Absolute Zero 3:43
06 Refraction 3:28
07 Occlusion 5:17
08 Downburst 27:21
09 Mirage 5:33
Packaging: Cardstock gatefold foldover
÷ Recorded on November 9th, 2011 at the Towson University Fine Arts Center in Baltimore, Maryland by Ed Tetreault.
÷ Susan Alcorn (born 1953) is an American composer, improvisor, and pedal steel guitarist. Alcorn started out playing guitar at the age of twelve, quickly immersing herself in folk music, blues, and the pop music of the 1960s. A chance encounter with blues musician Muddy Waters steered her towards playing slide guitar. By the time she was twenty-one, she had immersed herself in the pedal steel guitar, playing in country and western swing bands in Texas.
÷ Soon, she began to combine the techniques of country-western pedal steel with her own extended techniques to form a personal style influenced by free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and various folk musics of the world. By the early 1990s her music began to show an influence of the holistic and feminist “deep listening” philosophies of Pauline Oliveros.
÷ Though mostly a solo performer, Alcorn has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Joe Giardullo, Caroline Kraabel, Le Quan Ninh, Sean Meehan, Joe McPhee, LaDonna Smith, Mike Cooper, Walter Daniels, Ellen Fullman, Jandek, George Burt, Janel Leppin, Michael Formanek, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Maggie Nicols, Evan Parker, and Johanna Varner.
÷ She has written on the subject of music for the UK magazine Resonance and CounterPunch. Her article “The Road the Radio, and the Full Moon” was included in “The Best Music Writing of 2006” published by Da Capo Press.
÷ Recordings include Uma (Loveletter 2000), Curandera (Uma Sounds 2005), Concentration (Recorded 2005), and "And I Await the Resurrection of the Pedal Steel Guitar" (Olde English Spelling Bee 2007)
÷ She is married to photographer David Lobato.
÷ She lived in Houston; she lives in Baltimore.
Born: May 7, 1958 in San Francisco, CA
÷ Bassist and composer Michael Formanek has been a major presence on the creative jazz scene since the 1990 release of his debut album as a leader, Wide Open Spaces, on the Enja label.
Full bio: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/michael-formanek-mn0000170538/biography
÷ Listeners have come to expect the unexpected from tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, especially with respect to the musical settings in which he places himself. His long-running group with accordionist Andrea Parkins and beat-oriented drummer Jim Black may have seemed strange in it’s beginnings but over time their logic became clear and the strange began to seem normal, even necessary. With his new working group “Trio New York” Eskelin delivers the unexpected even in this more traditional lineup with Hammond B-3 recycler Gary Versace and another innovator of the drum-kit, Gerald Cleaver.
÷ With Mirage Eskelin presents us with another “unique” formula, this time combining his modern (yet impressively well informed) tenor sound with Susan Alcorn’s ethereal pedal steel guitar and Michael Formanek’s grounded acoustic double bass. This top-flight veteran tenor saxophonist continues to take risks and open new frontiers in jazz-based improvisation, even beyond the issue of instrumentation — for instance, his tone, phrasing and melodic conception is completely his own, even as he is keenly aware of the history and tradition associated with his instrument. The concept behind “Mirage” rests squarely with Eskelin as well, yet as with each of his past projects, the group sound is equally defined by the personalities of each musician. Alcorn’s contribution in this new proposal is key. No country & western / jazz fusion here, but instead a clever, fresh, luminous reinvention of an instrument and its vocabulary. ÷ Bassist Formanek’s contribution is equally essential, giving the music much of it’s warmth and expansive reach.
Artist Biography by Joslyn Layne
÷ Tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin was born in Wichita, KS, in 1959. He was raised in a musical home in Baltimore, MD, by his mother, Bobbie Lee, who played Hammond B-3 organ and led her own jazz groups during the '60s. Eskelin began playing the tenor saxophone when he was ten years old and knew immediately that he wanted to be a jazz player. He began working professionally while still in high school, and in 1973, began attending annual week-long summer residences with Stan Kenton & His Orchestra at Towson State University, where from 1977 to 1981 he was a student. In 1983, Eskelin moved to N.Y.C. to study and play, and it was here that he first really listened to music by his father Rodd Keith, who worked in the song poem industry during the '60s and '70s. Although Keith became a sort of cult figure due to his music, Eskelin was not as musically influenced by his father since he did not hear his music until this later date. Four years later, Eskelin appears on his first recording, Joint Venture, with Drew Gress and Paul Smoker, released by the Enja label. Over the years, Eskelin has developed a strong individual approach, combining jazz roots with various concepts of independence and role changing in an attempt to play freely, while still paying attention to harmony, time, and form. In 1994, he formed a trio with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black which has released structurally tight and enjoyable albums, mostly on the Hatology label. Eskelin has released over 20 albums as a leader and has appeared as a sideman on numerous other releases. (www.allmusic.com)
By Dan Sorrells; Rating: ****
By Derek Taylor
By GLENN ASTARITA, Published: July 10, 2013
|Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek, Susan Alcorn — Mirage (2013)|