Sabotage and Celebration
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'Sabotage and Celebration' is the fifth solo album from one of the world's most dynamic and original jazz artists, pianist and composer John Escreet. He is aptly supported by an A-list of preeminent creative musicians, including saxophonists David Binney and Chris Potter, who contribute inspired performances at the peak of their powers.
The album glistens from start to finish with the endless imagination and unrelenting vision of a truly singular voice in modern music. The seven original compositions by Escreet cover an incredible amount of musical ground. A string section is prominently featured as a result of his recent re-fascination with orchestral music; he seamlessly incorporates it into the context of a conventional quintet. And that's not all - brass, guitars and vocals are also layered into the proceedings in surprising ways, creating music of a larger scale.
Personnel: John Escreet (piano, Fender Rhodes), David Binney (alto & soprano saxophones), Chris Potter (tenor saxophone), Matt Brewer (double bass), Jim Black (drums)
With: Adam Rogers (guitar - 5,7), Louis Cole, Genevieve Artadi, Nina Geiger (vocals - 7), String section: Fung Chern Hwei (violin), Annette Homann (violin), Hannah Levinson (viola), Mariel Roberts (cello), Garth Stevenson (double bass), Brass section: Shane Endsley (trumpet), Josh Roseman (trombone)
'An outstanding album...the band coheres impressively, with excellent performances throughout.' -- BBC Music Magazine, (Barry Witherden), December 2013 * * * * *
'The New York jazz scene's hottest English import is his usual inventive hybrid of restless eclecticism and wittily episodic arrangements... Sabotage and Celebration is one of the contemporary jazz highlights of 2013.' -- Jazzwise, (Selwyn Harris), November 2013 * * * *
'Sabotage and Celebration finds this precociously accomplished small-ensemble composer relishing a broader palette - this time with a real string section rather than a synthed one, extra brass, the elite sax pairing of Chris Potter and David Binney, and three ethereal singers...He's a big talent, and it's confirmed by the classy New York company he keeps nowadays.' -- The Guardian, (John Fordham), October 18, 2013 * * * *
'Escreet outdoes himself on his aptly titled fifth album, an overwhelming, original onslaught of mint-fresh invention and virtuosity.' -- MOJO, (Chris Ingham), December 2013 * * * *
'There's emotional width and narrative drive on Escreet's tough-centred and disciplined round-up of New York's current left field.' -- Financial Times, (Mike Hobart), October 11, 2013 * * * *
'Escreet's originals are outstanding, particularly He Who Dares, very complex, and Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, a beautiful ballad in search of a worthy lyric.' -- Evening Standard, (Jack Massarik), October 18, 2013 * * * *
'Showcases a considerable (and remarkably versatile) compositional talent... Both Escreet's powerfully rolling buoyancy ('Laura Angela') and nervy, Zappaesque chattiness ('He Who Dares') give rise to vigorous, pleasantly acerbic saxophone solos from Binney and Potter, and with Black and Brewer exemplary in the ease and assurance with which they move between tumblingly emphatic beats and freer, looser, irregular rhythms, this is a fine, seething stew of an album, packed with unexpected felicities.' -- LondonJazzNews, (Chris Parker), October 11, 2013
'If you are looking for music that combines strong, characterful writing fully integrated with impassioned improvisation and surrounded by a whole rich wide world of sound, Sabotage And Celebration is hard to beat.'--The Jazz Breakfast, (Peter Bacon), October 18, 2013
Top Customer Reviews
He has got some of the top US names to play on this album - like Chris Potter, who's been playing with Dave Holland and Pat Metheny amongst others. But apart from this unusual provenenance - the music is a distinctive mix of arranged parts and wildly free improvisation. There is a string quartet and additional arranged brass, all written in by Escreet.
The album opens with a piece just for strings and this then slides smoothly into a track that mixes the two - with written arrangments attracting the ear, around solos that are incredibly lively and push the music into "free" territory. Subsequent tracks take us firmly into this genre of Jazz and can at times, be hard-going for the listener, with much dissonance and high intensity playing.
But this is always brought back by the writing and the interesting arrangements - the last track : "Beyond Your Wildest Dreams" is a particular favourite in this respect, with vocals added to an expansive and beautiful tune that runs through several changing sections.
Overall the wide variety of instrumentation provides interesting colours and Escreet's own keyboards provide stand-out moments - like his classic Fender Rhodes playing. There is always enough there to provide musical interest and also a hard edge of free improv to keep fans of the avant-garde end of the Jazz spectrum happy. Well worth a listen for fans of cutting edge, modern Jazz.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Sabotage and Celebration" resembles Escreet's previous recordings, The Age We Live in and Exception To The Rule inasmuch as the individual songs are intended to support the whole; as a classical composer might intend to do. However, in my view "Sabotage and Celebration" represents a major step forward for Escreet as an artist. First, this mostly all-acoustic project produces a warmer, more resonant and timeless sound when compared with the heavier, keyboard-laden overdubs that appear in his previous recordings (although these are certainly not without merit). Second, Escreet's creative muse seems to have inspired his best music to date, much of it practiced on the eve of the dramatic U.S. elections in 2012 and other portions composed in the harrowing aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Third, by providing the resources and support needed for the young artist to fully realize his vision, Whirlwind Records should be pleased to have produced such an impeccable, high-grade recording as this.
A breakdown of the individual songs would be a disservice because the reward for the listener is in the discovery. Perhaps the best way to describe Escreet's music is contemporary acoustic jazz with classical music elements; although its wide-ranging sound palette might reasonably invite comparisons with jazz fusion or the 'art rock' movement of the 1970s. In any case, the key players including Escreet, Binney and Potter delivering a stunning series of jazz improvisations throughout this project. In fact, Binney's incredible solo on the final track might well be one of the best jazz instrumental performances of the year.
From explosive free jazz to tightly-structured chamber music; modern post-bebop to progressive contemporary pop: suffice to say that listeners should be prepared for the unexpected. But if you are a jazz lover who thrives on creativity, I believe you will want to experience this amazing recording for yourself.
I highly recommend this outstanding recording to everyone.
Now, I realize that might not seem compelling, but fear not - this album is never boring. It's vital, energetic, and brave. What's more, it GROOVES. Jim Black, the drummer, executes high-torque fusion beats with icy precision as Escreet and his horn players serve Schoenberg and Reich via The Weather Report. The musicality here is stunning; matter how tricky the unison licks get, the band plays tight. David Binney and Chris Potter are brilliant saxophonists, equally capable of playing like Getz or Dolphy as the situation demands. Escreet's playing is jaw-dropping as well; he is a fantastic technician.
These charts are unusually varied and engaging, benefiting from a century of jazz styles to draw from. Escreet's band sounds, by turns, like Brubeck's quartet playing jazz-rock fusion, or Coltrane's avant-garde ensemble kicking up a furious racket of brassy shrieks. For listeners with a wide pedigree of musical tastes, the connections Escreet makes will immediately register as ingeniously inventive. Those who feel jazz music has nowhere left to go in the 21st century are in for a shock.