The eASTERN sEABOARD

Nonfiction

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Sonny Rollins defined the pianoless jazz tenor sax-bass-drums power trio in the ‘50s, and since then few groups have attempted to either assimilate, refine, or further modernize it. The eASTERN sEABOARD's foray into this format yields mixed results within the creative improvised esthetic. Frontman/tenor saxophonist Brent Bagwell's sound borrows heavily from Archie Shepp and, to an extent Eric Dolphy, as his acerbic, brittle tone stretches a linear harmonic landscape. Bassist Jordon Schranz is a more than adequate anchor, while Seth Nanaa's drumming is closer to rock stylistically. What this offers compositionally settles somewhere between modern mainstream and the free jazz of the late-‘60s ESP label-driven sound. There are aggressive stances taken during the hard toned "Minerals" and "Plainclothes Detective," where Nanaa's signature rock influence is most prevalent akin to the Bad Plus's Dave King. The 3/4 tempo is where Bagwell expresses a more melodic, tuneful tone during "Cut & Run" and "On the Take." Then again, a fierce, monochromatic, scattershot and overblown approach seems more his impatient center, in no-time "The Slink" being a perfect example. But there are pensive moods present, as a beautifully plaintive, dark sound permeates "Epidemic," and thoughtfulness imbues "Around the Town with Clinton Brown." Of three separate segments all titled "Anadarko," one has Bagwell's clarinet sailing at sea near a clouded shore, seeking a lighthouse motif, while another presents this paradox of "should I/shouldn't I wail?" There is a not-so-fine line between high art and overindulgence in the creative improvised music of 2K, so depending on your taste level, this can be appealing, or perhaps appalling to those who choose to listen to these unquestionably challenging sounds.