Harris Eisenstadt - Recent Developments

Label/Year: Songlines, 2017

Lineup - Harris Eisenstadt: percussion; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Dan Peck: tuba; Anna Webber: flute; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon; Brandon Seabrook: banjo; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Hank Roberts: cello.


Harris Eisenstadt is not only an efficacious percussionist but also a skillful composer and arranger. With 19 records already under his belt and precious collaborations with highly respected jazz figures such as Sam Rivers, Yusef Lateef, Nate Wooley, Tony Malaby, and Bennie Maupin, the Toronto native feels comfortable playing in both small and large ensembles.

His latest body of work, Recent Developments, is an appetizing feast of musical textures, timbres, and rhythmic pulses that provide a sensational experience for listeners who lean on the avant-garde jazz style. Besides the visionary concept employed on a compositional level, Eisenstadt’s creativity benefitted with the valuable rapport established within the 8-piece ensemble. The pretty talented lineup includes Jeb Bishop on trombone, Dan Peck on tuba, Anna Webber on flute, Nate Wooley on trumpet, Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon, Brandon Seabrook on banjo, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and the veteran Hank Roberts on cello.

In addition to an introduction, prologue, epilogue, and interludes delivered by variable formations, the album contains six pieces at its core that are heterogeneous in sound but deeply tied in terms of behavior and posture.

After a brief-yet-energetic woodwind intro and the following dark prologue, “Part 1” slides at mid-tempo, serving as a showcase for Wooley’s nimble crusades over a structural rhythmic foundation delineated by Opsvick, Peck, and Eisenstadt.

A light-footed bass walking, well aligned with the patterned snare-drum accents, invites Seabrook to dynamically contribute on “Part 2”. His chromatic risings are interrupted by meddling circus-like orchestrations, which, in turn, leads to the cavernous reverberations liberated by Peck’s tuba.

While “Part 3” makes bold moves within a ternary setting with Bishop as a protagonist, “Part 4” holds on to a 5/4 tuba groove bolstered by Eisenstadt’s rational drumming, which supports Webber’s trippy flute. Meanwhile, other instruments join, creating a carefree bedazzlement.
The drummer not only envisions ingratiating chamber movements to be delivered on “Part 5”, calling Schoenbeck’s bassoon to the center, but also reserves the final section for his own percussive creativity.

Right before the epilogue, gleeful melodic contortions can be heard on “Part 6”, the shortest part, where Seabrook and Roberts were given orders to create a stringed entanglement of banjo and bowed cello.

An indestructible feeling of unity reigns in Recent Developments since the abandonment of the musicians is never synonymous of disjunction but rather indefinite freedom.

         Grade  A-

         Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
07 – Part 3 ► 09 – Part 4 ► 11 – Part 5