Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Stephan Crump: acoustic bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.
Stephan Crump, an extraordinary bassist/composer of great sophistication, puts together a brand new quartet whose freshness, robustness and creativity are to be praised.
Rhombal showcases a two-horn frontline composed of Ellery Eskellin on tenor saxophone and Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, and a persuasive rhythm section with Crump and the drummer Tyshawn Sorey. They integrate funky grooves and avant-garde artistry in a fascinating way.
“NoD for Nelson” makes a strong entrance. The initial vamp boasts a gracing urban groove that consistently supports the reedists’ work, whether playing in unison or individually. If the ingenious young O’Farrill stands out on this opening tune, the astute Eskelin is impressive in “Grovi”, which gently flows with its laid-back posture and luscious melodies. It also shows a pretty active Sorey, who enriches the scenario with delicious and insightful percussive details.
With the frolicking “Skippaningam”, it’s time for a slice of hard-bop at full speed, all enveloped in a swinging mood that eventually shifts to more exploratory territories during the sax-trumpet improvisational rite.
“Loose Bay” captivates through enigmatic undertones. Crump’s occasional bowed bass intensifies the atmosphere while O’Farrill and Eskelin deliver beseeching and steadfast solos, respectively.
A danceable funk-rock returns with “Eskima Dream”, vigorously delineated by the obliging rhythm section and adorned with terrific horn unisons and counterpoints.
“How Close Are You”, a dainty ballad of complacent melody, opposes to the confidently swinging “Tschi”, just before we get to “Birdwhistle”, the only tune exceeding ten minutes long, which levitates with a sort of hiccupped melodic phrases. Crump’s fluidity and tempo, together with Sorey’s combustible drumming, weave an exciting foundation for the improvisers. Throughout Eskelin’s raucous solo, the tune plunges into avant-garde territory before returning to the groovy head.
The enchanting “Pulling Pillars-Outro for Patty” closes the cycle in a well-marked 6/8 time signature.
Expeditious yet never aggressive, Rhombal makes its moves with perseverance, unity, and self-expression. This collective accomplishment is already in the competition for the grooviest album of the year.
01 – NoD for Nelson ► 02 – Grovi ► 08 – Birdwhistle