Peter Epstein

The Invisible

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There is nothing about alto/tenor/soprano saxophonist Epstein's music that could be called clich├ęd or derivative. He's forging new trails within modern jazz, and that completely original music is well documented on this CD. It's his second with this group of bassist Chris Dahlgren, drummer Jim Black and keyboardist Jamie Saft. The seven cuts are split between the long and short of it. Most concise is the title track, with inherent long sax tones holding soft harmonics with Dahlgren's bass. "Creamy Center" sports a slow, incessant rock beat with organ, intensifying into a free discourse. "Ornette's Advice" has a warbling, repetitive Epstein on alto over demure, orchestral-sounding strings of the bass to a spiritual center and some patented free drumming from the always witty Black. "Good Fever" is a twitchy tango where Saft's cascading piano leads to more rockish beats. Of the more extended pieces, the most outstanding is "The Leaf's Impression," with dramatic Farfisa organ and Zen-like rambling sax in a dervish dance combined with a slight reggae feel. There's freedom galore, and beautiful originality in this ornately adorned piece. "Centrifugal Force" is more developed, with low-key balladic nuances and darker incursions contrasting hymnal motifs, rattling bells and percussion, and another rock beat. Spooky probing organ and a more pronounced alto implies the swirling, inexorable motion of the title. At their most tuneful or properly structured, "Shut Up, Peaceful" evokes the very spirit of the late Jim Pepper's saxophone sound and Native American expressiveness, a commendable attribute for Epstein. 6/8 African and swinging multiple rhythms seem simple for Black, but in fact he is evolving and conjuring these beats simultaneously, a remarkable feat for a fabulous percussion wizard. Epstein is making some pretty amazing statements rooted in world music and the avant-garde, but stretching even those parameters to create a contemporary modern sound all his own. This one is highly recommended.

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