As promised two days ago, here is the other new album by Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day III (Songlines 1596-2). It's the paired down quintet of Nate Wooley, trumpet, Matt Bauder, tenor, Chris Dingman, vibes, Garth Stevenson, contrabass, and of course Harris on drums and compositions.
This is more music of fascination. Harris sometimes writes music you might not always expect of a drummer. That is not intended as deprecatory. What I mean is that the music of course has a rhythmic component, but it is often the long flow of sequence that prevails. Now that happens to give Harris lots of space to do his excellent time variations, but it also has a kind of multi-dimensionality--long flow and solo improvisations or ensemble counterpoint--that breaks it up and gets polyvalency-polysemantics going (OK, this is a jazz column, so I should say I mean something with several dimensions, several meanings at the same time).
And OK bebop of course always has had the cycle of changes that was the long flow backdrop to the solo and rhythmn section punctuations. Harris can have harmonic cycles in motion but there is a more through-composed quality to the flow. It often involves motives and mood. Finally it's not just that he does this, it's the distinctive how and what that sets the music apart as different, original.
In this way Harris can have fairly long pieces that do not waste time--everything is of a piece and everything makes great use of the time spent. I don't need to go into the tendency of CDs and their spacious time element encouraging artists to indulge in overly long programs and perhaps stretching out in ways that overtax the listener. That's not what happens here or in any of Harris's recordings. The music is necessary and sufficient, never indulgent.
Needless to say all the artists here improvise with their own originality and feeling. Harris on drums is somebody to listen to productively just in himself. Dingman's vibes give the ensemble its special sound quality and he can weave lines, but then Garth is strong as well. The Wooley-Bauder team is excellent of course, here as elsewhere.
Composer Eisenstadt comes through with more of his sophisticated yet fired-up subtlety.
Don't miss this one!! Really.