The Convergence Quartet | Owl Jacket | No Business Records

The Convergence Quartet Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet), Harris Eisenstadt (drums), Alexander Hawkins (piano), and Dominic Lash (double bass) brings together four leaders of a generation of composer improvisers who draw on a deep range of influences and traditions in their music. All established bandleaders in their own right, the band’s credits also include work, both live and on record, with many seminal names in contemporary jazz: Anthony Braxton, John Butcher, Joe McPhee, Louis Moholo Moholo, Evan Parker, Mulatu Astatke, Sam Rivers, and Cecil Taylor, to name only a few. Through many hours on the road and in rehearsal, the group have forged their many and varied musical experiences into a uniquely innovative and coherent language, offering as a result a ‘powerful example of 21st-century musical catholicity’ (John Fordham, The Guardian) and ‘moments of magical innovation’ (Paul Medley, The Oxford Times). Continue reading

The Convergence Quartet | Slow and Steady | No Business Records

Free music is no simple matter. It can work marvelously when the chemistry between players is right. Or it can earnestly go along but never quite reach a collective point of convergence. Happily, the group named after such occurrences, the Convergence Quartet, achieves such a state consistently and rewardingly on their album Slow and Steady (No Business NBCD 53). — Grego Applegate Edwards Continue reading

Jeb Bishop | Harris Eisenstadt | Jason Roebke | Tiebreaker | Not Two Records

Thecrowd at this Krakow, Poland date probably thought they were applauding three Americans. Yet while astute trombonist Bishop and solid bassist Roebke are both Chicago-based, versatile drummer Eisenstadt is a Toronto native now in New York. Bishop’s gutsy slurs and growls lock in place so completely with Roebke’s steady walking and Eisenstadt’s rumbling, funky beats that other instruments aren’t missed. While some tracks may be snappier, the key performance is the almost-39-minute medley that seamlessly links two of the trombonist’s compositions, one by the drummer and another by the bassist. As the tunes flow into one another, Bishop’s buzzing grace notes elongate into brays, strengthened by Eisenstadt’s drags and rim shots. Moving to “Double Dog”, the second tune, brass chromaticism turns to horn whistles and squeaks, until the drummer’s cymbal embellishments signal the shift into his own “How Are You Dear”. Bishop’s lip burbles personalize the tender line, while adding vocalized tessitura. The bassist’s “Northstar” brings out trombone snorts and tongue gymnastics, answered with fidgety arco sweeps and timed drum strokes. The four compositions fit together as effectively as the players improvise together. — Ken Waxman, Continue reading

Brassum | Dan Clucas | Michael Vlatkovich | Mark Weaver | Harris Eisenstadt | Live | pfmentum

Here we have jazzy improvisation at top level but with strong emphasis on some melodic lines. And that is what distinguishes Brassum from many others improvisers or spontaneous musicians. Here we have exploration of lines done with trombones and tubas and cornets with a certain jazz feeling but keeping main ideas through all the compositions. This is exploration of new sounds with a lot of coherence and developing new ideas but always keeping the main structures in mind that is what gives a pure jazz feeling. — musicextreme Oct 2006 Continue reading

AMH Trio | Alan Lechusza | Mark Weaver | Harris Eisenstadt | Live at Field & Frame | Plutonium Records

Releases like “live at the Field & Frame” serve notice that free improvisation and outside jazz (…or whatever you want to call it) are alive and well outside of NYC, Chicago and San Francisco. Tuba-ist Mark Weaver encountered San Diego-based multi-woodwind player Alan Lechusza while playing in Portland Oregon, in groups led by trumpeter Rob Blakeslee and trombonist Michael Vlatkovich. To quote Weaver’s own liner note, he and Lechusza “immediately felt an affinity” for each others’ playing, and planned their own project. — Dave Wayne Continue reading

Mark Weaver’s Brassum | Warning Lights | Plutonium Records

Given its name which reflects its brass-heavy instrumentation, you’d expect Mark Weaver’s Brassum to be a celebration of the brass band tradition with evocations of marching bands… But with leader and tubaist Mark Weaver taking on the role of the string bass, this band really is a free Bop ensemble with catchy, intriguing tunes setting up edgy blowing. Little Weaver plays wouldn’t fall easily under the fingers of an adept bassist. That’s not to say that his big brass bass doesn’t add a dominant color to the date. The tuba’s expansive sound envelops the ensemble with a golden fog. Even when vamping, Weaver’s lines (and this applies as well to the undisputed master of this school of tuba, Bob Stewart) resonate with the other horns in the way a string bass does not. Weaver and Eisenstadt prove to be a playful rhythm section. Clucas works well within the context of Weaver’s compositions. Vlatkovich further lifts the session with his robust, ripping trombone lines. …this music, through crafty writing and daring playing, achieves a sound larger than you’d assume from the seemingly meager complement of instruments. —David Dupont (Cadence magazine vol.30, No.6, June 2004, p.46-47) Continue reading