John Escreet – Sabotage and Celebration
(Whirlwind Records WR4634. CD Review by Chris Parker)
With a title track reproducing, in its transition from squealing free-form jazz to joyously hectic celebratory soloing, the emotions of US election night (7 November 2012), when Obama’s second-term victory overcame reported ‘voter sabotage’, and a cast of US jazz masters – saxophonists Dave Binney and Chris Potter, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Jim Black – John Escreet’s fifth album demonstrates just how successfully the Doncaster-born pianist/composer has settled in to the American cultural scene since emigrating to New York in 2006.
It also showcases a considerable (and remarkably versatile) compositional talent, its seven pieces ranging unaffectedly between arresting, voluble themes employing a deep and satisfying ensemble sound (involving both string and brass sections); gutsy, tear-it-up saxophone solos, dazzlingly fleet piano passages and exhilarating free improvisation; and – in a mesmerising final cut, ‘Beyond Your Wildest Dreams’ – a slowly achieved but ultimately irresistibly hypnotic and stirring climax.
Escreet himself points to ‘albums back in the 1970s [which] featured a wider sonic palette … combined with some of the pop music I’ve been listening to recently’ as the immediate inspiration for the rich, multi-hued music he has produced on Sabotage and Celebration, but it is the enthusiasm and vitality with which his stellar band approaches this material that make this recording so impressive.
Both Escreet’s powerfully rolling buoyancy (‘Laura Angela’) and nervy, Zappaesque chattiness (‘He Who Dares’) give rise to vigorous, pleasantly acerbic saxophone solos from Binney and Potter, and with Black and Brewer exemplary in the ease and assurance with which they move between tumblingly emphatic beats and freer, looser, irregular rhythms, this is a fine, seething stew of an album, packed with unexpected felicities.