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A review of Consequences from Grayhunter


John Escreet – Consequences

So the newest CD I’ve been listening to is John Escreet’s Consequences. It’s an eccentric, nearly indescribable, hour of music. The music is precise; each note is deliberate, every arrangement pointed, all instruments focused. The … consequence of this precision? Hmmm ….

Escreet has been a student of music from a young age. At age four, he began piano lessons, but also played the cornet, French horn and violin. By age ten, he was apparently improvinsing his own music. A decade and a half later, he’s played in London, toured the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. So, he’s got the skills. He’s left “normal” music behind and reached a higher plane of musical existence. Consequences is the product of that higher plane. Without doubt, this music is intelligent, hinting at themes I most likely missed completely.

The first three tracks, collectively titled “The Suite of Consequences,” is a private conversation betwixt the horns and the piano. Each takes a turn giving a soliliquy now and again. We’re allowed to listen in, knowing there’s something important to the dialogue, but not quite getting it. Or perhaps it’s more like a musical essay, contemplative and reflective. Yet, the three movements of “Consequences” seem to veer towards self-indulgence.

The same can be said of the other songs. All of them, save “No Doubt,” are Escreet’s own compositions and he seems to be indulging his inestimable talent, more interested in stringing and meshing together the stabbings of piano keys and blatting of horns than composing a song. It just seemed like a jumbled mess, tossed together just to be tossed together. And yet, it’s balanced and planned, too.

It’s a strangely compelling CD. The group explores scales and progressions in fabulous ways. It will take some time to fully absorb this material and distinguish the various influences and understand the improvisations. Really, I couldn’t say this record is either good or bad because I don’t really comprehend it. However, it is certainly worth exploring.

Joining Escreet on this recording is David Binney, alto sax and electronics (which are put to use in subtle ways on “Somewhere Between Dreaming and Sleeping”); Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet; Matt Brewer, double bass (he only rears his head audibly a few times, but it was cool); and Tyshawn Sorey on drums.


1. The Suite of Consequences
2. Wayne’s World
3. Dilemma
4. Somewhere Between Dreaming and Sleeping
5. No Doubt

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A review of Consequences from


John Escreet – Consequences (Posi-Tone, 2008)

Pianist and composer Escreet takes on some potent challenges with a very talented band. He is accompanied by David Binney on alto saxophone, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Matt Brewer on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. The album opens with a very ambitious and lengthy three part suite featuring some stout and powerful trumpet playing and a very potent and percussive piano interlude in the third movement. This is a powerful arrangement that also allows the musicians in the group enough freedom for them to interpret the composition as they see fit.The highlight of the disc for me was “Wayne’s World” which gets appropriately Shorter-esque with an epic saxophone solo of knotty intensity, one of the best solos I have heard from Binney. “Dilema” ratchets down the intensity for a lengthy fender rhodes electric piano feature, and the closing “No Doubt” is a solo piano feature. I was impressed with this disc, for a young and up coming musician, Escreet acquits himself well in heady company and his compositions have a distinctively original and aspiring quality.

Posted on Leave a comment review of The Suite of Consequence (movement II)

escreet-consequenceswww.jazz.comBy Walter Kolosky

The Suite of Consequence (Movement II)


John Escreet (keyboards),

Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), David Binney (sax), Matt Brewer (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (drums)

Composed by John Escreet

Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, June 2008

Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

A foreboding introduction ushers in “The Suite of Consequence (Movement II).” While “Movement I” was somewhat structured, “Movement II” is nothing of the sort. A somber and simultaneous chaotic atmosphere hangs in the air. Saxophonist David Binney and bassist Matt Brewer take turns trying to sound like each other in a slow and sad section. Pianist John Escreet and Binney follow by trying to fill the now present sound vacuum with some spatial texture. The doom and gloom continues as the volume and participation levels increase. Now all obvious structure is lost. A free jazz formlessness appears, then disappears. It turns out that there is form in the unformed. I am usually not a big fan of this free jazz stuff. But Escreet’s music has the ability to maintain interest. Perhaps it is because it is a section of a larger piece, and you need to hear this to get you from here to there. At any rate, “Movement II” is quite engaging.

There are three parts to the overall suite. They are listed as separate cuts, but “Movement II” flows seamlessly into “Movement III” without any pause on the CD. It is a continuation of the substance of “Movement II.” However, as the piece draws closer to its end, there is an increased amount of dynamic syncopation, stops and starts and unison playing. The suite ends with a dead stop.

This music will not be to everyone’s liking. But those of you who enjoy listening to jazz musicians trying to meet the strong challenge of powerfully intricate music that is still somehow free will be very stimulated.

Posted on Leave a comment review of John Escreet’s Somewhere Between Dreaming and Sleeping
By Mark Seleski


John Escreet (piano, Fender Rhodes),

Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), David Binney (alto sax, electronics), Matt Brewer (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (drums)

Composed by John Escreet

Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, June 2008

Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

After a particularly weird dream, have you ever noticed how the chemicals your brain parts pumped out managed to make the oddest transitions seem perfectly normal? The unofficial term for this is “dream logic,” and this track provides an aural outline of the concept. Oddball plinky noises, broken piano arpeggios and ominous bass scrapings simulate the dreamer attempting to tune in something meaningful on that apparently malfunctioning living-room radio of the mind. But then the sounds begin to coalesce, and what seemed random now makes sense. The theme radiating from those sparse piano and horn notes was set up perfectly by the previous musical scene. When things almost fly apart as the suite ends (we’re past the 9-minute point here), that makes sense too. Dream logic indeed.

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AAJ review of Consequences


John Escreet | Posi-Tone Records (2008)

By Mark F. Turner

Since moving to New York in 2006 the exciting London pianist/composer John Escreet has assembled a sensational group of likeminded leaders/thinkers—first call saxophonist David Binney, and equally dynamic younger stars, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey—to form the John Escreet Project. The resulting recording Consequences, is a scintillating work of modern progressive jazz.

A commanding performer who comps and solos with the percussive flamboyance of Jason Moran (who wrote the recording’s liner notes), Escreet’s imaginative pen brings forth omnivorous music: Andrew Hill’s avant- gardism, flawless bop, the eccentricities of free jazz and contemporary composition. The three-part and thirty minute “Consequence Suite” contrasts multiple moments of drama, intensity and calm. These counterpoints can be heard during Escreet and Sorey’s chaotic dance in “Movement I,” Brewers’ stirring bowed solo in “Movement II,” or the cacophonous torrent of instruments in “Movement III” which morphs into Akinmusire and Binney’s marching horn dialog and then into a power coda.

What lies outside of the suite is also intriguing. The angular beginnings of “Wayne’s World” flow into a hip melody contrasted by two distinct paths: the first contains a powerful exploratory solo by Binney; the second trajectory, a slow pattern where Akinmusire delivers some introspective playing. As in the other compositions, the group interaction and each player’s vivid abilities are outstanding.

Escreet provides nimble Fender Rhodes action on the classy “Dilemma” along with with some nice horn arranging, whereas surrealist explorations in “Somewhere between Dreaming and Sleeping” are colored by electronic atmospheric touches. The recording closes with the brilliant take on Andrew Hill’s “No Doubt” from the master pianist’s 1964 Blue Note recording Andrew!!!. Esctreet’s version continues its unique qualities of dissonance, mystery and poignancy.

Cerebral, gutsy, and filled with personality, Consequences is a discriminating work from a promising talent and one of the brightest releases of 2008.

Track listing: The Suite Of Consequence – Movement I; The Suite Of Consequence – Movement II; The Suite Of Consequence – Movement III; Wayne’s World; Dilemma; Somewhere Between Dreaming And Sleeping; No Doubt.

Personnel: John Escreet: piano, Fender Rhodes; David Binney: alto saxophone, electronics; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Matt Brewer: double bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

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A review of Ehud Asherie’s Lockout from

by J Hunter

Bebop is almost seen now as the default form of jazz. Back in the day though, most jazz musicians still swung and swayed like Sammy Kaye, so the “new sound Dizzy Gillespie and his cohorts invented was as jarring as anything coming out of today’s New York jazz underground. With Lockout, pianist Ehud Asherie takes that uptown sound and runs with it, spurred on by a monster quartet that features two major players at Smalls, the downtown club where Asherie cooked up his chops.

Four of the nine cuts on Lockout are Asherie originals, though they are almost indistinguishable from the bebop standards with which they share space here. “Mixed Emotions shoots out of the gate with Asherie and tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart flying in tight formation, each shaping the head while injecting enough harmony to create their own individual spaces. Stewart’s phrases are sharp and clipped as he plumbs the depths of his tenor sax, while Asherie comps like a fiend behind him. The Israeli-born pianist takes the spotlight with a quick right hand that dances and bangs, snapping off a fast “Yellow Rose of Texas sub-reference in the middle of a blinding solo. That snap never wanes, not even on the Irving Berlin ballad “Isn’t This a Lovely Day or during his in-the-clear intro to Harry Warren’s “I Had the Craziest Dream.

Asherie’s music has the same feel as the picture on the back of the CD booklet: New York at night, all neon and shadows and glowing mist, as urban as it gets. “Chonky is a rolling blues that reeks of “Noo Yawk,” and has Stewart’ smoking tenor in the Coleman Hawkins tradition; “The Special walks those same mean streets, with slightly flat lines that hint of impending danger. The title track could have come straight out of the bells of Dizzy and Bird, with Asherie playing Bud Powell chords to complete the illusion.

Drummer Phil Stewart hooks up with bassist Joel Forbes to provide the classic bebop bass and drum foundation. Both players get room to stretch here and there—Stewart most notably on Powell’s “Un Poco Loco —but their primary mission is to lay the floor for the three players who do the bulk of the heavy lifting. The third soloist is Ryan Kisor, whose searing trumpet appears on four cuts, including the Gillespie composition “Shaw ‘Nuff. Kisor and Stewart’s solos are stunningly chaotic—crazed buglers calling the charge as the track careens downhill, almost at the edge of the cliff.

Asherie is firmly in control though, and shows wisdom beyond his years by giving his players the space they deserve. Asherie doesn’t always take the first solo, but he doesn’t have to: Lockout is clearly his vision, and it injects verve and electricity into a sub-genre that began as innovation, but nowadays can lend itself to stagnation.

Track listing: Mixed Emotions; Chonky; Shaw ‘Nuff; Isn’t This a Lovely Day; Lockout; The Special; Un Poco Loco; I Had the Craziest Dream; Bringing Up Father.

Personnel: Ehud Asherie: piano; Grant Stewart: tenor sax; Joel Forbes: bass; Phil Stewart: drums; Ryan Kisor: trumpet (3, 5, 8, 9).

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A review of Sean Nowell’s Firewerks from

by Phil DiPetro

Sean Nowell is a virtual unknown who became known to me virtually through the socio-musical phenomenon known as MySpace. Nowell and his quintet have succeeded at melding, morphing and mixing the best of Blue Note-era small-group nirvana with the Headhunters’ pocket and vibe, evolving it to right now. This is not merely attributable to great writing and playing, but innovative arranging between the dual horn attack of tenorist Nowell and altoist Travis Sullivan, as padded and parried by Art Hirahara’s ultra-hip Rhodes. A hard -driving horn man from Alabama, Nowell’s now a New Yorker and member of Sullivan’s Bjorkestra, of which this entire unit is a scintillating subset.

A modern sinewy dual horn line kick-starts “Pale,” abetted by Joe Abbatantuono’s modern rock beats and bassist Danny Zanker’s slinky and bomb-like acoustic accents. This is supplanted by what I’ll call Nowell and Sullivan’s “home sound,” one that could be conjured by a front-line of saxophonists Stanley Turrentine and Sonny Criss until it starts to dance around each other in a motivic counter-melody so tightly written and arranged it sounds improvised.

Nowell’s first solo shows his big-tenor influences and up-to-the minute chops, punctuated by tasteful over- blowing running perfectly counter to the gutbucket jam, then growing Brecker-esquely dense. Sullivan doesn’t wait for the bar line on a perfectly executed handoff, while showing he’s an equally gifted soloist, adding Criss-like breathiness, classic alto rasp and finally, modern angularity to the mix. Hirahara seamlessly runs first into atmospheric territory, abetted by Abbatantuono’s stops and starts. The drummer’s dexterity on the bell of the ride and snare propels the Rhodes man to elasticize the funk into uncharted territory before bringing it home linearly and exiting on a new motif.

San Francisco transplant Hirahara is the session’s most “out-of-nowhere” revelation, so potent a soloist and colorist it seems at times as though it’s his date, as on the sultry “Resolution of Self,” similarly centered on unison, then separately supportive dual horn lines. Changing chords on each note of the latter portion of the horn line, the Rhodes urgently recontextualizes each second of their freefall. Horns drop out to leave a Rhodes trio. Hirahara counterbalances a restatement of the head, right against left, languidly linearizing into a solo growing more rhythmically precise, finally allowing slower lines to overrun each other with vintage sustain. The set’s catchiest number, using four bars of five and containing two notes each, it seems a rip-off of a classic horn line, but isn’t. The pre-ending motif is particularly effective as the two notes restate, but climb in a simple scalar fashion seducing you into a smoky sixties vibe.

Another highlight is “Inner Universe,” Nowell’s drum ‘n’ bass-driven rearrangement of a song by Anime composer Yoko Kanno that serves as a shreddingly satisfying modern tribute.

Tempting as it is to say Nowell’s concept, and the fresh-faced cast assembled here to translate it, portends great things, it’s untrue—they’ve already delivered one.

Track listing: Pale; Resolution of Self; ShahazaRaz; Folding Space; Isobel (Bjork); Maklahj; Inner Universe; Lament for Arnold.

Personnel: Sean Nowell: tenor sax; Travis Sullivan: alto sax; Art Hirahara: fender rhodes; Danny Zanker: bass; Joe Abbatantuono: drums.