Ellery Eskelin / Sylvie Courvoisier

Every So Often

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The quirky, patient, thoughtful improvisations of tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier are quite worthwhile as single-minded, individualist expressions. During Every So Often, the focus of these two extraordinary players comes about clearer and cleaner through the speakers, testament to a successful partnership. Courvoisier seems to favor leaner sounds, and is willing to explore the inside strings of the piano further, while Eskelin builds phrases and note clusters through a process that defies gravity. This is music that emphasizes space as much as the interplay of the single tones they offer, to the audience and each other. Where "Moderato Cantabile" combines both restrained and stealth ideas, "Architecture" really has the pair thinking about modern, abstract structure with a purpose, reeled in but also whimsical. Fractured music and true spontaneity are where their expertise lies, but you can also hear the interrogating sax of Eskelin during "Open Channel," while Courvoisier's tiny piano tumbles down the mountain slope in "Processing," contrasting the larger sax ramblings of Eskelin. There are acute listening skills employed and high art served on the appropriately titled "Accidentals," but "Blind Spot" is the track where there's more space than music. Developing sounds in the unseen and rarely heard realm, Eskelin and Courvoisier offer up plenty of mystery or intrigue, with just enough base metals to turn the fa├žade of this illuminative music into a polished but matted brasslike sheen. If you enjoy modern creative improvised projects, this ranks right up there as one of the better efforts, along with Courvoisier's many recordings with her husband, violinist Mark Feldman.

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