Call things as you please, but there are cardinal traits of reed-based improvisation that are practically imperishable, no matter how extended techniques, memory and passion may be combined. At any given time juncture, the moment comes for a master instrumentalist to re-evaluate the basics of solo playing, hence finding important answers to the necessity of autonomous expression. In Solo Live At Snugs Ellery Eskelin put himself in the condition of entertaining an audience by recurring to a soulful, eloquent, forward-looking jargon. The outcome is represented by music with an unusually high level of comprehensibility despite a few complications and an absolute lack of stereotypes.
The four sections are just slightly different in terms of instinctive note selection and timbral shading; all of them see Eskelin in utterly convincing shape. Countless lines flow without an ounce of self-assertive hostility, as we’re gradually welcomed inside the polite intelligence of a musician whose confidence derives from the summing-up of a myriad of diverse experiences. The persuasive phraseology, the constant shift of hypothetical tonalities surrounding the protagonist’s investigations and the listener’s growing interest in solving unexpected melodic riddles are essential components for the enjoyment of the album. A lot of saxophonists manifest a scathing rage to convey what transits across their mind during a performance, often revealing a damaging ego that could shut out many potential learners. Eskelin doesn’t need to do that, sounding more like a wise travel companion for listeners willing to genuinely comprehend the artist’s intention.