Monday, 2 February, 2009

Ellery Eskelin & Han Bennink - Dissonant Characters (1999)

**That is the game in a nutshell, judging from these 10 innings. In the course of what sounds like chasing and being chased, each dives through a wide variety of sonic, textural and dynamic choices. But is is on the level of rhythm that the dance becomes more frenzied... Maybe it helps to know that Han and Ellery are both good chess players. Bennink favors an offensive game for sure. But Eskelin is conspicuously untraumatized, knowing that with Bennink the idea is not to steer the bull but to keep from being thrown. And Han, to his audible pleasure, discovers a rare, fully equipped improviser he can't scare off, wear out, bury or give the slip. Kevin Whitehead

**Given Han Bennink's reputation and no-nonsense attitude when it comes to improvising in a duet situation, most of his performances with American musicians lacked something. It's easy to see now what that something was: the full technical and/or soulful presence of the other player. In this duet with New Yorker Ellery Eskelin, Bennink has found as formidable an opponent in an American as he did in Sonny Rollins some years back. Over the course of ten improvisations, Eskelin and Bennink dig deeply into their basic-level knowledge about jazz and bring to the cutting room, where they slip around and chase each other through rhythmic, harmonic, and timbral rabbit holes. The title track, which serves in a way as a backdrop, or hinge, for the entire proceeding is a plethora of contradictions: consonance and dissonance, inside versus outside, to swing or not to swing, to play the blues or blow as freely as possible, and how often to shift gears. Bennink's slickness as a drummer makes him a huge obstacle for some as a duet partner because he never looks to do the same thing twice, and goes far out of his way to avoid any traps that might hem him in. Eskelin grew up and learned to swing first and then improvise. He has a deft sense of timing for a saxophonist. His own playing, whether in screeching arpeggios in a free mode ("Incontrario") or shifting gears and engaging the more pastoral side of melodic improvisation that roots itself in the blues ("Alias"), is rubbery, mutable, bendable, which makes him the perfect "singing" voice for Bennink -- witness this on the Monk contributions ("Sights Unseen/Brilliant Corners" and "Let's Cool One"). This is a lighthearted disc with heavy-duty jams on it. The playing is among Eskelin's finest -- which is saying a lot -- and is easily the finest of the recorded duets between Bennink and the Americans. A necessary addition to the duet library, or the fans of either man; this is one hot, smoking, gorgeous platter. Thom Jurek, AMG

**Tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin has always demanded a lot from his drummers. Having worked with some of the most virtuostic drummers alive, including Joey Baron and Jim Black, Eskelin has high standards for the rhythm section—because his unpredictable, angular phrasing demands immediate attention and a lightning response. Dutch master drummer Han Bennink, of course, has long been one of the most in-demand players on the European free improvisation scene. Bennink played on a number of wildly successful duet recordings, as well as a string of five inspired Clusone Trio records. Eskelin and Bennink got together in NYC in January 1997, almost by accident, as part of a series of Bennink duets with American improvisors. They liked the results of this meeting so much that they decided to get together again. So Eskelin and Bennink went to Switzerland last December to play together in the Kulak recording studio.The resulting product, Dissonant Characters, documents the sympathetic vibrations of two master improvisors who both thrive on the excitement of the unexpected. Outside the context of his usual composition-heavy trio, Eskelin appears to freely allow his muse to dictate the changes during play. Bennink moves from sporadic free tinkles to marching band drum beats in milliseconds, pushing and prodding Eskelin;s dry tenor throughout the hour of improvisation. A welcome addition to the growing heap of Eskelin material, Dissonant Characters presents two mature voices in active conversation at the peak of their powers. Nils Jacobson

1. Flutter
2. Dissonant Characters
3. Incontrario
4. Oloraz = (Barolo)
5. Alias
6. Bud + Shake
7. Sight Unseen/Brilliant Corners
8. No Pyrrhula, Pyrrhula (= Bullfinch)
9. Let's Cool One
10. Pro Tanto

All by Eskelin & Bennink except #7 & #9, by Monk
Recorded in Dec 1998 in Benkon, Switzerland.
Released in 1999 by Hat Hut Records in a limited edition of 3000 copies.



Unknown said...

If you want to post Han Bennink - Nerve Beats let me know I will upload it for you

KRENG said...

Excellent. You continue to amaze me shitless with your very impressive selections! Thank you so much for this one!

Unknown said...

brave I am going to re upload Art Blakey Three Blind Mice Vol 2 and Vol 1 will send new link when I get it done Steve

Unknown said...

Hi you posted Art Blakey Three Blind Mice Vol 2 a while back in Dec . I deleted those links and re uploaded it into one file that also includes Vol 1 of the set feel free to re upload it here is the new link , there is info with cover and players in each link .

Unknown said... . this link will work

wightdj said...

Delicioso, thanks.

neil said...

Looking forward to it...

air-conditioned said...

nice one

Anonymous said...

what a drummer!

P said...

fucking great stuff

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!