By Frank Alkyer | Published September 2022
John Escreet is not shy as a composer or improviser. His piano playing slaps bold, bombastic and beautiful, as witnessed on Seismic Shift, his new recording on the Whirlwind label. Escreet’s pianism drips with power, as witnessed on “Study No. 1,” the opening number on the new recording. The tune is a tour de force shot from a cannon. He rips through clusters of notes, rapid-fire, and pounds the keyboard with an aggressiveness that commands attention. Bandmates Eric Revis on bass and Damion Reid on drums spur on a call-and-response group dynamic that takes the music “out” but still keeps everything in the groove. This agility and interplay between the three, on what is Escreet’s first-ever trio recording, makes the entirety of Seismic Shift a joyful, “hell, yeah” listen. The album’s intensity pulls you in even when Escreet turns the burner down a notch, as he does on “Equipoise,” with cascades of notes flowing under his fingertips in a most unusual manner. But the majority of the program delivers jazz as a boxing match packed with jabs, uppercuts and haymakers. Throughout the program, as on “Perpetual Love,” Escreet delivers jaw-dropping technique and dexterity. For example, the title cut presents a true “Seismic Shift.” The tune’s ominous intro features Reid dancing on the cymbals and Revis droning arco while Escreet twists a dystopian melody that builds, explores and explodes. Seismic, indeed. To read more about Escreet and this new project, check out the November issue of DownBeat, coming out soon!