EEA

The Dark

origin 82554

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net

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One may not suspect the existence of jazz in a place like Reno, Nevada, but I, for one, was aware that there was a scene present because I had relatives living there and spent time in this beautiful town-- a smaller-Las Vegas, but in a much lovelier location near Lake Tahoe and the Donner Pass into Northern California. My relatives lived in Sparks - where this album was recorded - and I have fond memories of some of the jazz music I saw while visiting there. Perhaps the biggest reason for jazz in the desert is the presence of the University of Nevada, Reno - of which all three members of this trio are members of the faculty. Saxophonist Peter Epstein, trumpeter Larry Engstrom and pianist David Ake are EEA and on this trio sans bass and drums, the music is - as you might expect - airy. But that is not to say it is unsubstantial as all three members are exceptional improvisers who have played with people like Ralph Alessi, Uri Caine, Charlie Haden and Ravi Coltrane and who have considerable experience collaborating with each other. This experience is invaluable as the three members work in synchronous fashion to weave a series of songs that stand alone, while flowing from one to the next to produce a compelling musical journey. The songs are mostly originals written by pianist David Ake, but there are three short, but rewarding group improvisations. Meanwhile, Egberto Gismonti's "Palhaco" is covered in a gorgeous take that is perhaps the centerpiece and a highlight, and the group takes on two deconstructed Duke Ellington pieces - "African Flower" and "Heaven." There is an ECM-like flowing feel with lots of space and reverberation - especially without bass and drums - but the strong technique and sensitivity of the players keep things from floating away into the ether on the hypnotic opening title track. The intricate counter-lines and unison playing on "Keystone" give the impression that one is listening to a larger ensemble and the unusual instrumentation means this group sounds like no other. Ake shows he is a force as a composer with assured and interesting pieces like "The Dark," "Keystone," "Polar," "Time Falls (Like Snow)" and "Birthday Boy," while all of the players improvise on a high order. An impressive and enjoyable debut.






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