NewYork-based trumpeter/composer Nathan Eklund assembles a fiery, swinging quintet for Coin Flip, his fourth release as a leader and first for Seattle's OA2 Records. The nine track disc is as much a showcase for Eklund's convincing abilities as a composer and arranger as it is for his dynamic trumpet playing.
Eklund demonstrates an immense trumpet tone with technical agility, rooted in the post-bop tradition. Echoes of the late trumpet giants Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw can be heard on the meter-shifting opener "Rooicka's Castle" and the groovy "Professor Dissendadt," a tune reminiscent of a CTI Records date from the early 1970s.
Eklund and saxophonist Craig Yaremko forge their way through "Triple Shot Espresso" with bebop-driven ferocity, riding along the charged-up swinging pulse of drummer Shawn Baltazor and bassist Kellen Harrison. Countering the caffeine buzz, pianist Steve Myerson, who plays Fender Rhodes throughout, introduces the luminous ballad "Happy's Sadness" with harmonic warmth. Here, Eklund demonstrates a mature sense of phrasing without the need for cliché.
"Front Lawn" stands out as a compositional highlight with an open-ended form, teetering on a funk-based groove without fully committing. It is this type of rhythmic freedom that leads to some of the more inspired soloing on the disc.
The session comes to a close with the soulful vibe of "Chim's Paradise," a bouncy 5/4 piece with a bass line reminiscent of Miles Davis' "All Blues." With solid writing, catered to the strengths of the individual band members, Eklund has developed a unique group effort, forward thinking with reverence to the past.