|Escreet, John: Don't Fight The Inevitable
Posted by Alex Torres, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-07-12 16:13:36
Isn't it peculiar how unrelated, random events often seem to be possessed of some sort of link, or be affected by the will of fate. I hadn't reviewed a jazz record in a while and, all of a sudden, this is my second in three reviews. Not just that, but I've also recently reviewed the Mack Maloney CD and, looking at his MySpace, he makes a comment that makes me smile, which is "still trying to figure out jazz"!
"Still trying to figure out jazz" - there's the trick! It's not about understanding at all, nothing to do with it! As the famous Charlie Parker himself says in the sound clips included in "Charlie in the Parker" (the album's only cover version), music is more than just melody, harmony and rhythm". Parker says that music can be descriptive in all sorts of ways, that there are stories that can be told through it. Essentially, music is about "feel", and about being "in the moment", as Randy Klein puts it in the sleeve notes of his Sunday Morning CD, which I reviewed recently on SoT. Clearly, different types of jazz music have a different feel, some of which might not appeal, but that doesn't make it any different or more "difficult" than other genres of music. It's just music, to be enjoyed, not understood. Of course, your part of the bargain is to listen, to let the music have its chance. If, having done that, you don't like it, then that's fine; after all, there is nothing on this world that appeals to everybody.
Escreet's Don't Fight the Inevitable comes with a very different feel to that of Klein's Sunday Morning. Whereas Sunday Morning was all about relaxation and soothing your troubles away, Don't Fight the Inevitable is more about challenging barriers and exploring sounds. Sure, there is "easy" melody, played at an easily recognisable time signature, as on "Magic Chemical (For the Future)", but it occurs briefly within the meanderings of an overall piece and the overall preponderance of music is for more complex rhythmic patterns, harder to discern melodic lines. In rock terms, this is your Frank Zappa as opposed to your Billy Joel. Nevertheless, this jazz never descends to the depths of that "avant-garde" improvisation which most of us, other than the musicians involved themselves, find it difficult to get any "feel" for. Consequently there is always a reward in this music to those who listen attentively and let themselves be submersed in it.
Escreet is a British pianist and composer who has taken up residence in the US. Don't Fight the Inevitable's seven self-penned compositions allow plenty of scope for the other members of his band to shine through: David Binney (alto saxophones, electronics), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Matt Brewer (double bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums). Thus, whilst the purposeful piano is often centre-stage, it is, equally often, playing a supporting role, either whilst the other instruments hold the line or, as it occasionally seems to me, holding the "ship steady" whilst one of the others thinks up a new improvised line! You get everything from rhythm to melody to sound experimentation, often within the same composition as its journey progresses. "Soundscape" is one of the more unusual pieces in that it is led by the electronics from the start and has aspects of club and space-rock fused in with the jazz; the aforementioned "Magic Chemical (For the Future)" has some standout foot-tapping sections; "Trouble and Activity" features some more sound/mood exploration; "Gone and Not Forgotten" has beautifully soft and velvety textures.
Ultimately, though, the more you listen to Don't Fight the Inevitable, the less you want to attempt to describe it in words (impossible) and the more you want to just listen and feel. It is, after all, music.