The second recording released in 2009 by Harris Eisenstadt contrasts greatly with his previous effort, Guewel, which consisted of progressive, horn-oriented treatments of African popular music. Canada Day is a celebration of his native country, and as the Canadian goose signifies on the cover, the music is symbolic of freedom, flight, and artistry. Much more in the modern jazz arena, the music reflects both neo-bop and creative improvised styles with a very talented quintet of young and experienced players. Tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and bassist Eivind Opsvik have all led their own dates, while promising vibraphonist Chris Dingman is a new and welcome name on the scene. A composer of great depth and diversity, Eisenstadt proves a fine trap drummer for this recording, and a formidable bandleader who deserves more recognition in both areas. Pieces like "Don't Gild the Lilly" and "Keep Casing Rods" both display a love for post-modern mainstream jazz, the former in a mysterious N.Y.C. neo-bop with clockwork rhythms and new inventions from Dingman, the latter a singsong swinger with nice horn unity in hushed, fluid tones, and a tacked-on duet between the saxophonist and drummer. Bauder is a player who is growing by leaps and bounds after time spent with Anthony Braxton, showing no discernible influences, finding his own voice. His solemn, understated tone during "Halifax" sets a definite tone, while with Wooley during "After an Outdoor Bath," his funky, angular tones like sideways rain is akin to the best Ornette Coleman/Don Cherry harmelodic mood. The group coasts on "And When to Come Back" like nonchalant homing pigeons who have done this reverse pilgrimage many times before, and the modified waltz "Ups & Downs," is ever changing in dynamics, indicative of the title, includes a fine solo from the opulent Opsvik, and is one of Eisenstadt's better composed works. "Kategeeper" is clearly a paean to a flighty member of the female sex, a harder-edged, mixed-message funk with spiky, emotion-saturated lines. The cohesion of the ensemble, glued by the steady, steaming, streaming rhythms of Eisenstadt, keeps the listener focused and compelled to hear more. Canada Day is not just for North Americans, but an impressive studio date that should also be heard live in performance. As it is, this is a strong candidate for Top Ten status in the category of best jazz CDs of 2009, with Guewel equally viable in the world music category.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos