Monday, April 1, 2013


You can order TRIO NEW YORK II directly from my website...

The New Yorker magazine recently referred to me as a saxophonist “with a romantic streak that runs parallel to his experimental leanings”.  I like that.  Romance is a descriptor that is rarely associated with the improv scene in New York City.  And for the past couple of decades that is what I’ve been doing mostly.  Free improvisation.

Yet in the past few years I’ve grown to feel very strongly that certain musical ingredients from those often romanticized days of old New York still resonate and even sound modern to my ears.  I’m not talking about style, but of sound, delivery and rhythmic feeling in which saxophonists presented themselves much in the mold of the great vocalists.  There was a type of virtuosity in their delivery (the sculpting of sound, the attention to timing) in which every nuance was magnified and deeply meaningful, the results sounding quite audacious to my ears today.

I’ve always thought of “Trio New York” as a free improvisation unit, in some ways a continuation of the type of work I’ve been doing all along, in other ways a distinct break from many of the concepts I’d been working with previously. The most significant difference is the use of the Great American Songbook (as structure) and a conscious awareness of how those aforementioned concepts of sound and delivery can be used to balance out the more astringent elements of our sonic palette.  Of course, it’s tricky when dealing with certain musical conventions.  Our first recording, simply called “Trio New York”, acted as a sort of musical Rorschach test.  One reviewer felt that we were more closely aligned with the aesthetics of Pierre Boulez than that of any jazz group while another writer found our approach to be fairly straight-forward, unconcerned with anything much other than grooving.  Same recording.  Of course, both elements do exist in the music.

Trio New York began in early 2010.  We played locally in NYC clubs putting in a year’s worth of time before making that first recording in 2011.  That led to the band’s first European tour in early 2012 followed by dates in Canada and the US, most recently being the Detroit Jazz Festival.  Which reminds me; having done most of my work in Europe for the past twenty five years it was a special honor to perform at a major US jazz event that offers such artistically vital programming to the listening public. 

“Trio New York II” is the second recording by the group and represents an evolution, the band having fine tuned it’s musical processes from gig to gig.  We’re always looking to increase musical clarity while allowing enough mystery to keep things spontaneous and surprising.  I’ve chosen material that I find compelling and beautiful while allowing the music to reflect the challenges and complexity involved in uniting and reconciling musical eras.

I’m very proud to be working with two of the great musicians of our time, organist Gary Versace (who knows his way around B3 Hammond organ and knows how to be creative with it) and Gerald Cleaver (who is both swinging and free, always with impressive dynamic sensitivity).  This new release also coincides with the fact that as of this month I’ve now been living in New York City for thirty years (see previous entry).  (I keep doing the math on that just to be sure, and yet somehow it keeps coming out the same).  A lot has happened during that time and I feel as though I’m finally in a place where I can truly integrate all my experiences into the music, from the early days up until today.

Our sound engineer is Jon Rosenberg.  My relationship with Jon goes back to the early ‘90s.  Over the years we’ve had many lengthy discussions about recording techniques and musical aesthetics.  I can say with absolutely no reservations that we’ve achieved the best recorded sound of my career in these last two Trio New York recordings with Jon.  I also want to thank Systems Two Studios, a great room with a wonderful staff.  Scott Friedlander has designed the CD packages for several prime source productions.  I provided Scott with photography of my own and he always manages to create a compelling visual statement.

Please know that it’s very important to me to take the extra time and expense to document this work and present it to you as a physical entity with the highest standards of artistic and technical quality possible.  This documentation is not only central to my progress as an artist but I feel it is doubly important that as we are asking for your time and attention you should understand that you are getting a state of the art recording for your collection that you can value for many years to come.  Trio New York II is released on my own “prime source” label.  From my hands to yours.  I value the the personal relationship that I have developed with each of you listeners over these many years.  

Thanks very much.

Ellery Eskelin

TRIO NEW YORK II Promotional Video...