David Liebman: tenor saxophone; Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Tony Marino: bass; Jim Black: drums
Safe – notwithstanding, vigilant – inside the borders of present-day jazz pervaded by the consideration for traditional values, the couple of reedists co-fronting this quartet divides the record in two nearly opposite halves, with superb results.
Liebman’s compositions – magisterially paced and definitely more lilting when the tempos run faster – give an opportunity to the audible chemistry to evolve according to the spur of the moment. The themes – as in the initial “New Breed” – may start as quasi-singable lines, then get squeezed through interconnecting conduits where the influence of close contrapuntal intervals propels the music forward with no apparent effort. The offbeat subdivisions of “In The Mean Time” allow Marino and Black to showcase their grooving versatility, the accents shifting against any tapping foot’s intention. The version of Albert Ayler’s “Ghosts” is both humble and snappy, and that’s all one needs sometimes.
Eskelin’s “Non Sequiturs” suite represents a valid counterbalancing of his former teacher’s preceding offers. Cryptic suspensions hinting to unresolved modulations, scores that leave considerable freedom to the performers, several allusions to a quietness that is often sorely missing in the typical verbosity of too many jazz warblers. The interwoven parts of “Low Visibility” and “Main North” teasingly hint to a complexness that does exist, but is left semi-disguised under a veil of innate restraint. In the latter track, Marino’s arco works wonders, insinuating a thoughtful lyricalness within the constitutional composure of a totally rewarding exposition. “Tin Baroque” and “Adjusted Scatter” attempt to mine the calmness with a good degree of technical combustion, yet the intelligibility is still there.
A work that inexorably tickled our willingness to deepen its traits, beauty revealed little by little upon repeated listens without giving casual clues.