Ellery Eskelin

12 + (1) Imaginary Views

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12 + (1) Imaginary Views Review

by Steve Loewy

This is Eskelin's seventh release on the hatOLOGY label, and like several of the others, it features his splendid trio with Jim Black and Andrea Parkins. Eskelin describes this recording in his thoughtful, detailed liner notes as more improvised than his others, hence the title 12 + (1) Imaginary Views. (The only recognizable tune is Monk's "Oska T.") As with the others in the series, this one is characterized by quality performances, focused playing, and creative, hard-edged, gritty improvisations. At the time of this release the trio had been making the concert circuits with considerable success, and their sense of near-perfect synchronicity is evident. Although 12 + (1) Imaginary Views does not break new ground, it reaffirms Eskelin's stature as one of the premier saxophonists of his generation -- an innovator with a big tone and studied technique who is not afraid to take chances. Parkins colors the proceedings with her accordion, throwing in touches of piano and sampler for effect, while Jim Black propels the group forward with powerful intensity. Eskelin is too smart to let abstract improvisations detract from his vision; he composes, heads, and keeps the tunes intact with deft arranging. This may not be the most compelling recording in the series, but it is nonetheless a fine addition to Eskelin's discography.

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