Ellery Eskelin

Green Bermudas

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AllMusic Review by William York

Throughout his career, tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin has proven willing to mix his bluesy, jazz-rooted horn playing with sounds that are more foreign to jazz, and Green Bermudas may be his most daring effort in this regard. Accordionist/keyboardist Andrea Parkins lays the foundation here with samples of bagpipes, bells, Eskelin's saxophone, and, on four of the tracks, the bizarre, MOR-pop "song poems" of his father, the legendary Rodd Keith. She often deals these samples out in surprisingly large chunks, leaving Eskelin alone to wrestle with them for minutes at a time, although she is not afraid to process and tinker with them, either (see "Mary Jane's Dilemma"). Eskelin responds by alternately letting out dense flurries of notes/sound by playing along with the harmonies that drift by courtesy of Parkins' keyboard or the aforementioned pop song fragments, or by simply laying out and not playing at all. The duo is very patient, not requiring the pieces to climax or resolve in any specific manner (if at all), and as a result, the music feels very relaxed and unforced, despite its frequent strangeness. There is certainly an air of mischief when Parkins sets her partner up with a goofy, banal pop song to play along with, then proceeds to warp it almost beyond recognition ("Yummy Love"), but there is also a serious angle that shows up on "This Warm Secret Dial," for example, which contains an oddly touching "duet" between Eskelin and his father. It's not for all tastes, but this is a unique, rewarding album and is well worth exploring by folks willing to follow these musicians into the deep end.

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