Album reviews

John Escreet – ‘Seismic Shift’

John Escreet – Seismic Shift

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4793. Review by Bruce Lindsay)

Pianist John Escreet was born in Doncaster, moved to New York in his early 20s and then decamped to Los Angeles in early 2020. During his time in the USA he’s released a steady stream of music under his own name and worked with a diverse array of musicians including Antonio Sanchez, David Binney, and Evan Parker (who appeared on Sound, Space and Structures with Tyshawn Sorey and John Hébert). Seismic Shift is Escreet’s ninth album, but his first as leader of a trio (although the album is credited solely to the pianist). The experienced Eric Revis on double bass and Damion Reid on drums complete the band, with Escreet also taking on the producer’s role.

Of the nine tracks, five are credited to Escreet, one is a cover and two improvised tunes are credited to all three players. One thing that becomes apparent from the opening bars of track one is just how powerfully Escreet can hit the keys. It doesn’t matter how fast he’s playing, whether it’s single note runs or full chords. Thankfully, Revis and Reid are equally capable of such power, matching the pianist throughout the album. The result, on tracks such as ‘Study No.1,’ ‘Digital Tulips’ or the improvised one hundred and one seconds long ‘Quick Reset,’ is an exciting experience for the listener. It’s not all power and muscle, of course, even though the album publicity stresses the music’s ‘tumult, rupture, earthquake’ which the album’s title more than hints at. The trio is equally capable of subtle flourishes and fluid melodic passages, on the opening of ‘Perpetual Love’ for example (later on, the tune reflects the tumult and rupture noted above).

The non-original composition is Stanley Cowell’s ‘Equipoise.’ Escreet knew Cowell, a pianist and educator who offered the younger man encouragement through email discussions until Cowell’s death in December 2020. This album’s version of ‘Equipoise’ is lyrical and fluid, a beautiful rendition from all three players. ‘Outward and Upward’ takes its title from advice Cowell offered to Escreet. It’s another fully improvised piece and it begins with flourishes on piano that sound like the tinkling of little glass bells before moving into more foreboding musical territory. The energy and imagination brought to the piece by Escreet, Revis and Reid is impressive and creates one of the album’s standout tracks.

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Seismic Shift was released on compact disc in October 2022 and will be released on vinyl in February 2023

LINK : Buy Seismic Shift

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