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Take Five with John Escreet from

Meet John Escreet:
Since moving to New York in 2006, John Escreet has had a powerful impact, and is emerging as one of the most creative and original pianists on the music scene there. He is highly revered amongst his peers for his creativity, openness and for his own original music, which draws inspiration from many different sources, and encompasses them all and much more. Escreet keeps himself busy by touring regularly across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. When not on the road, he resides in New York City, working on and performing his own original music, constantly challenging himself and searching for something new and original. In the summer of 2008 he graduated from the Master’s Program at Manhattan School of Music, where he studied piano with Kenny Barron and Jason Moran.

He leads his own group The John Escreet Project, which is described by The New York Times as “a superb band,” and which features some of the most exciting and forward-thinking improvising musical talents on the New York jazz scene—David Binney (alto saxophone), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Matt Brewer (double-bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums). John’s highly anticipated debut album with this group, Consequences, was released in September 2008 on the Posi-Tone label, and quickly received widespread critical acclaim, including being voted “Best debut of 2008” by All About Jazz New York. It is also described by All About Jazz as “a scintillating work of modern progressive jazz,” and by The New York Times as “a highly accomplished debut.”

John has worked frequently in David Binney’s regular group in NYC, and was also part of the world premier performance of the saxophonist’s new Big Band at The Jazz Gallery. In June 2007 John played a weekend engagement at Smalls Jazz Club in New York with his own group that featured Ari Hoenig (drums) and Adam Rogers (guitar).

John is also a member of a collective called The Story, which features some of the most exciting and creative young musicians in NYC—Lars Dietrich (alto saxophone), Samir Zarif (tenor saxophone), Zack Lober (double-bass) and Greg Ritchie (drums). Their debut album is released March 2009. John is also a member of The TransAtlantic Collective, which is a new contemporary jazz ensemble, whose members and collaborators are some of the top emerging artists from New York City and London.

John also occasionally leads a trio, which features bassist Orlando LeFleming, and drummer Rodney Green. Since being in NYC, John has also had the opportunity to perform with many other great musicians, including Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Seamus Blake, Will Vinson, Logan Richardson, Ben van Gelder, Marcus Gilmore, Dan Weiss and many more.

As well as performing at most of New York City’s major jazz venues, John has performed at important international jazz venues such as the Blue Note (Milan), Bimhuis (Amsterdam), Ronnie Scott’s (London), Upstairs (Montreal), and has also performed at major concert halls such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Purcell Room and the CBSO Centre. John is also active in jazz education, and has given clinics and workshops at institutions such as the Royal Academy of Music (London), Birmingham Conservatoire (Birmingham UK), McGill University (Montreal), Humber College (Toronto) and Loyola University (New Orleans).

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John Kelman’s AAJ review for our David Binney/Alan Ferber CD “In The Paint”……

By John Kelman

With an influence felt, perhaps, as much or more in the work of others than in his own record sales, alto saxophonist David Binney rarely co-leads groups, but his longstanding collaboration with pianist Edward Simon has been fruitful in more ways than one. Sharing compositional and conceptual duties frees him to focus more on his playing, and that’s always a good thing, as Binney’s innovative writing has sometimes overshadowed the fact that he’s also a damn fine performer. Co-leading brings even greater breadth to the table, making In the Paint—a first-time shared leadership with trombonist Alan Ferber—another inspired pairing.

Nearly 15 years Binney’s younger, Ferber has been increasingly in the public eye on guitarist Charlie Hunter’s succinct Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid (Spire, 2010), bassist Todd Sickafoose’s remarkable Tiny Resistors (Cryptogramophone, 2008) and percussionist/composer John Hollenbeck’s equally outstanding Eternal Interlude (Sunnyside, 2009). He also guested on Binney’s last album with Simon, Océanos (Criss Cross, 2007), but with In the Paint his voice is more definitive—splitting compositional duties with Binney nearly down the middle, alongside an uncovered gem and three freely improvised alto/trombone duets that demonstrate the leaders’ shared propensity for pulling surprising form from the ether.

Despite being instantly recognizable, Binney’s writing remains fresh and unpredictable. With a septet also featuring the twin-chordal attack of pianist John Escreet and vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, and a rhythm section powered by bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver, the opening “Growin’ Up” combines mixed meters and unhurried motivic development, built around unison lines that give way to knotty counterpoint, creating a propulsive, mid-tempo context for Binney’s needle-threading solo. Ferber’s title track is equally intricate, a syncopated bass line doubled by Escreet underpinning warm voicings and an equally unhurried melody that sets up an exhilarating alto solo that reaches comfortably into the horn’s upper register before Ferber takes over, his burnished tone possessing a hint of grit as he lithely winds his way through the changes.

Cleaver and Morgan swing with gentle authority on Binney’s “Everybody’s Wonderland,” shifting seamlessly between 5/8 and 6/8, while Escreet takes a lengthy solo that confirms his status as another young player to watch. Schlamb, another up-and-comer, delivers an ethereal solo, filled with cascading lines, on Binney’s “Paris,” where darker colors support its serpentine melody. Unencumbered by preconception, Binney and Ferber engage on three spontaneous miniatures: the vivacious “Interlude I”; sparer “Interlude II”; and “Interlude III,” where the two orbit around each other, occasionally intersecting. “Lautir”—by the perennially overlooked woodwind multi-instrumentalist Ken McIntyre, best-known for his work with Eric Dolphy and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra—becomes a brief feature for Cleaver.

Binney and Ferber’s shared appreciation for complex yet eminently accessible writing—performed by an ensemble rich in texture and a simmering rather than steaming approach—makes In the Paint a captivating listen. A strong addition to Binney’s discography, it’s also clear notice that Ferber is an artist to watch beyond his inestimable appearances as a sideman.

Track listing: Growin’ Up; In the Paint; Everybody’s Wonderland; Interlude I; Paris; Edinburgh; Icecave; Interlude II; La Taqueria; Magnolia; Lautir; Interlude III; Our Inventions.

Personnel: David Binney: alto saxophone; Alan Ferber: trombone; John Escreet: piano; Peter Schlamb: vibes; Thomas Morgan: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

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An All About Jazz piece about saxophonist David Binney that also contains a review of his and Trombonist Alan Ferber’s Posi-Tone CD “In the Paint” …

David Binney: In The Paint; Ray’s Way & Third Occasion

by Russ Musto

While saxophonist David Binney has been increasingly recognized for his substantial musical talents, the greater part of the praise he has received has focused on his considerable capabilities as a composer, often to the point of overshadowing his skills as a rhythmically agile musician with a rich distinctive tone and extraordinary imagination. On these three very varied dates, the full breadth of Binney’s abilities come to light in a manner that is bound to call even more attention to his wide-ranging artistry.

Binney teams up with trombonist Alan Ferber (who previously appeared with the saxophonist on his critically-acclaimed Oceanos CD) for In The Paint, a co-led outing on which the two hornmen split the writing chores for a sextet of vibraphonist Peter Schlamb and the exceptional rhythm section of John Escreet, Thomas Morgan and Gerald Cleaver. While adhering to traditional song form structures and jazz rhythms, the date is far from a blowing session (due to its extremely well-conceived writing), although it does exhibit much of the straight-ahead improvisational excitement of such events. Binney’s alto is darker, grittier and more propulsive here—at times intimating the muscular authority of Gary Bartz—and he and Ferber are fine foils, complementing each other with alternating staccato and legato phrasing. The pair’s melodically engaging composing styles are suited well to each other’s personalities and three improvised duets in the AACM mode illustrate an uncannily intuitive simpatico that hopefully foretells future collaborations.

Ray Levier’s Ray’s Way features Binney as a sideman on four tracks of the journeyman drummer’s debut date as a leader, teamed with the alternating guitars of John Abercrombie and Mike Stern for a pair of pieces each. The former is on fellow participant vibraphonist Joe Locke’s propulsive soulful title track (driven by Francois Moutin’s big-toned bass) and the leader’s beautiful ballad “Song For Nury” while the latter figures prominently on his own energized compositions “You Never Know” and “Bait Tone Blues”. Binney blows some spirited sax that transports listeners to the West Village’s 55Bar where he and Stern have regularly held forth for years and Levier occasionally leads his group these days.

Third Occasion is Binney’s latest self-produced album as a leader for his own Mythology label and easily one of his finest efforts to date. The disc features, along with regular collaborators pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, a brass quartet—a rare if not heretofore unprecedented feature for a jazz date. This facet of the disc will undoubtedly call even more attention to the leader’s compositional expertise, built upon his gifted melodicism, harmonic sophistication and mastery of counterpoint. The double trumpet/trombone ensemble of Ambrose Akinmusire, Brad King, Corey King and Andy Hunter that bookends the date’s 13 pieces provide a warm harmonic milieu over which the soloists improvise and execute the leader’s lyrical melodies, giving an air of classicism to the compositions; these have an expansively quiet intensity that recalls early Wayne Shorter and Andrew Hill. Taborn, Colley and Blade each contribute their very individual voices to great effect, but it is Binney’s inimitable sound that defines the overall tenor of the music, clearly identifying him as an artist with a unique vision.

Tracks and Personnel

In The Paint

Tracks: Growin’ Up; In The Paint; Everybody’s Wonderland; Interlude I; Paris; Edinburgh; Ice Cave; Interlude II; La Taqueria; Magnolia; Lautir; Interlude III; Our Inventions.

Personnel: David Binney: alto sax; Alan Ferber: trombone; Thomas Morgan: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums; Peter Schlamb: vibes.

Ray’s Way

Tracks: Ray’s Way; Manhatta; You Never Know; Song for Nury; Blues in the Closet; Bait Tone Blues; Ralph’s Piano Waltz; Echoing; Wing and a Prayer.

Personnel: David Binney: saxophone (1, 3 4, 6); Federico Turreni: soprano sax (8); John Abercrombie: guitar: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8); Mike Stern: guitar (3, 5, 6, 9); Joe Locke: vibes (1, 2, 4, 7, 8); Francois Moutin: bass (1-4, 6-8); Ned Mann: bass(5, 9); Ray Levier: drums.

Third Occasion

Tracks: Introducao; Third Occasion; This Naked Sunday; Squares and Palaces; Solo; Here is All The Love I Have; Explaining What’s Hidden; Blood of Cities; End.

Personnel: David Binney: alto saxophone; Craig Taborn: piano; Scott Colley: acoustic bass; Brian Blade: drums; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Brad Mason: trumpet, flugelhorn; Corey King: trombone; Andy Hunter: trombone.

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All About Jazz review of John Escreet CD “Consequences”…
John Escreet | Posi-Tone Records (2008)

By Elliott Simon

It is uplifting when a release reveals that there is still compositional fire in the heads, hearts and instruments of the children of freedom and grandchildren of bop. British pianist John Escreet is the latest very pleasant surprise from this generation of 20-somethings—one who not only has technical ability but also compositional inventiveness and stylistic relevance. Joining him on an intense session are kindred players that he has hooked up with in the two short years he has been in New York. The Consequences of all this are magnificently displayed on this recent offering.

While Escreet has a clear understanding of bop and free, he also brings with him a gritty funkiness that includes judicious use of the Rhodes. Equally funky kudos though should go to a killer horn section of altoist David Binney and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the former also adding a touch of electronics to give the program a slight back-to-the- future feel. Drummer Tyshawn Sorey is amazing in his versatility and the delightfully economical crispness of his approach as is bassist Matt Brewer, who impresses with both fingers and bow.

“The Suite of Consequence,” running 30 minutes in length and consisting of three movements, is at the heart of this session. It is a piece that takes some active listening in order to appreciate its panoramic style and scope. This is followed by the somewhat shorter “Wayne’s World,” with inspired Binney alto work over powerful ensemble playing, a deliciously funky “Dilemma” and the clever representation of attaining the twilight that is “Somewhere Between Dreaming and Sleeping.” A touching solo performance of Andrew Hill’s “No Doubt” closes things out beautifully with a contrasting purity that is the perfect resolution to a powerful program.

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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Nate Chinen’s NY Times review of pianist John Escreet’s “Consequences” CD featuring David Binney on alto saxophone, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Matt Brewer on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums…

CRITICS’ CHOICE; New CDs: John Escreet
Published: December 1, 2008


John Escreet, a British jazz pianist in his mid-20s, has no problem communicating drama. ”Consequences,” his highly accomplished debut, opens with a half-hour composition — ”The Suite of Consequence” — that divides almost imperceptibly into three parts. The piece at large is a whorl of high-impact quintet engagement, combustible solo digressions, calmly contemplative passages and flashes of mounting suspense. A lot happens there, and each moment carries its own sharp glint of conviction.

Mr. Escreet has been based in New York for the last two years, earning a master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music and studying with two generations of pianistic modernists, Kenny Barron and Jason Moran. He has also plugged into an active network of open-minded composer-improvisers, some of whom appear here. The John Escreet Project, as he calls his superb band, features David Binney on alto saxophone, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Matt Brewer on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. (The group is scheduled to appear at the Jazz Gallery in the South Village on Jan. 22; see for details.)

As an instrumentalist Mr. Escreet has both his ruminative and expansive sides, drawing no clear distinction between them. He takes a moment to affirm his contemporary bona fides with ”Dilemma,” employing Fender Rhodes electric piano and a shadowy, irregular pulse. But his best playing comes in radiant bursts, in the opening suite and on a tune titled ”Wayne’s World,” presumably after the saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

The album ends with an allusion to another obvious yet unobtrusive influence, the pianist and composer Andrew Hill. By including one of Mr. Hill’s early ballads, ”No Doubt,” Mr. Escreet establishes a lineage while also making a claim. By playing it unaccompanied, he imbues his reading with the kind of dramatic tension that feels convincingly personal. NATE CHINEN

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A review of In the Paint from urbanflux

Alto Sax sensation David Binney joins forces with Trombonist Alan Ferber on “In The Paint“. Turning each of their compositional talents toward the harmonious creation of a wide variety of entertaining ensemble performances the entire session is highlighted by a pleasant combination of melodicism and surprising improvisations. The program is delightfully engaging and prominently features the flowing rhythms of veteran drummer Gerald Cleaver, the inventive counterpoint of bassist Thomas Morgan, an interesting new discovery in Peter Schlamb on vibes, and the wide harmonic palette of the celebrated musical prodigy John Escreet on piano.

While all these players on the date have strong voices and are capable of delivering jump shots from the “out” side of jazz, this record ultimately scores points because of the productive and skillful team play of the entire ensemble as they interact with the melodies and harmonic structures of the compositions.

Binney/Ferber’s “In The Paint” is a musical slam dunk that is sure to please jazz fans everywhere, and a compositional tour de force for discerning listeners to enjoy time after time.

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Heres a short write-up about “In the Paint” by David Binney and Alan Ferber…

David Binney / Alan Ferber – In The Paint

Release date: April 21st 2009

Availability: CD, MP3 Download, iTunes

David Binney’s excellent work with David Simon (“Afinidad”, “Fiestas De Agosto”, “Oceanos”) produced landmarks in intelligent, immersive jazz. The relatively new partnership with Alan Ferber returns to that productive vein after the 2006 departure with Bill Frisell on “Out Of Airplanes”.

The sextet – David Binney (alto sax), Alan Ferber (trombone), Peter Schlamb (vibes), John Escreet (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums) – is full voiced, exploring distinctive harmonisation between alto sax and trombone.

“Paris”, a clear stand-out on an album of many successes, features new vibes player Peter Schlamb to great effect.

But there are strong, memorable compositions (the upbeat opener “Growin’ Up”, the more meditative title track and “Everybody’s Wonderland”, the Ornette Coleman-like “La Tequira”, the closer, “Our Inventions”) throughout a very fine album.

Highly recommended.

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Jazztimes review of “Consequences”

April 2009
John Escreet

By Bill Milkowski

Straddling through-composed and free-form music, the U.K.-born pianist-composer John Escreet delves into original, forward-thinking territory with fellow New Yorkers and like-minded musical renegades like trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, alto saxophonist David Binney, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. From the 30-minute “Suite of Consequence” to the episodic “Wayne’s World,” with allusions to Wayne Shorter’s harmonic genius, to the lyrical “Dilemma” and a solo piano cover of Andrew Hill’s “No Doubt,” this is challenging, rewarding stuff for adventurous listeners.

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Nate Chinen’s NYT review of John Escreet at the Jazz Gallery…

Building Bridges With a Post-Bop Ideal

John Escreet began his first set at the Jazz Gallery on Thursday night with a solo piano rumination, soft but stern. He was playing “No Doubt,” by the pianist-composer Andrew Hill, as an invocation, and maybe a stylistic pledge of allegiance. But then when he struck up a tempo to cue his band, the theme it hammered out was a choppy thing called “Unison,” by the British saxophonist Jason Yarde.

That juxtaposition says something about Mr. Escreet, who moved to New York from England a few years ago. Now in his mid-20s, he approaches music with a broad perspective and a knack for drawing connections. Mr. Hill, who died in 2007, can be a touchstone for him, but so can Mr. Yarde, who’s closer to his age and scarcely known on this side of the Atlantic. It all feeds a purpose of dynamic abstraction, the progressive post-bop ideal.

Mr. Escreet recently released his first album, “Consequences” (Posi-Tone), featuring a New York group he calls the John Escreet Project: the alto saxophonist David Binney, the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the bassist Matt Brewer and the drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Here, with Zack Lober substituting for Mr. Brewer, the band was both elastic and fervent.

In the spirit of Mr. Hill — and Jason Moran, with whom he has studied — Mr. Escreet wants his performances to feel sudden and changeable. His solo on “Unison” was one long crescendo, all stuttering rumble and cresting tide. Mr. Binney, up next, ordered a breakneck swing tempo, his notes forming gusty arcs. When it was Mr. Akinmusire’s turn, the band fell away, leaving him space for a pointillist concerto.

The episodic strategy for the band flattered no one more than Mr. Akinmusire, an expert colorist with imposing technique. He delivered the most striking solo of the set on an Escreet original called “Dilemma,” flirting with free improvisation but keeping a toehold in melody. Even at his most texture-minded, with whinnies and slurs, he made sense.

The same was true later, when he made his trumpet evoke a sputtering turbine on “Wayne’s World,” another piece by Mr. Escreet (named for Wayne Shorter, not the movie). This time he wasn’t alone: Mr. Binney, hissing through his reed, and Mr. Sorey, thumping his bass drum with a mallet, helped stir the air. They paused only for a dash of pianism by Mr. Escreet, who treated it as a transition, another bridge to build.


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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