Dave Eshelman

Mystique

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Armed with a play list of six of his originals, a couple of standards, and a classical piece, trombonist Dave Eshelman heads a trio of major figures on the contemporary progressive jazz scene: John Abercrombie, John Patitucci, and Peter Erskine. The unusual configuration of trombone with rhythm section less piano results in a singular aural sensation, especially when Eshelman's trombone plays over Abercrombie's guitar. But the music on this CD calls for an instrumental setup as imaginative as the music that's being performed, which definitely tends toward creative modern avant-garde but without disregarding melody. "Kaleidoscope" is just that, music with ever-shifting harmonic and percussive patterns designed to create an unearthly, now-you-see-it-and-now-you-don't sensation. And even if you did see it, it's probably not what you thought it was. While the arrangement moves closer to conventional, "Catch Me Up" offers jagged rhythms as well as guitar improvisation of the highest order by Abercrombie with Patitucci's bass grumbling away underneath and Erskine's staccato drum shots taking on a meaning of their own. On an album replete with excellent tracks, the one standard, "I Hear a Rhapsody," is a first among equals as it features Eshelman and Abercrombie vying for improvisational preeminence. Nothing like a little creative competition, goaded on once more by Erskine's rat-a-tat drumming, to liven up a tune. The track winning the prize for sheer beauty is Claude Debussy's "Nuit d'Etoiles." This slow-moving piece highlights the purity of Eshelman's trombone as well as his seamless technique. It's unlikely these four will ever meet again as a group in a recording studio. It's too bad, because for a little more than an hour they gave birth to some wonderful performances.

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