John Escreet

The Unkown
(Sunnyside)

English pianist John Escreet has been living in New York for the last decade, where he’s formed a regular trio with bassist John Hébert and percussionist Tyshawn Sorey. For this live album, recorded during a
four-date European tour, the group is joined by saxophonist Evan Parker, who proves a natural fit for the group’s environment of intense improvisation.

The Unkown unfolds in two parts, the first at 45 minutes long, the second at 30. Escreet begins with a ruminative solo piano, concentrating on a brooding bass note presence, savoring its decay. He emits dark, coiling clouds of ill portent. When Hébert enters, he’s almost a subliminal presence, bowing deeply, slowly gaining definition. Sorey sets his cymbals a-shimmer, then Parker blows a mournful call.

Part two introduces a violent sensitivity, until a surprise swerve occurs, creating a vibe that’s almost exotic. Sorey rattles the drums with his hands as if playing a North African or Middle Eastern goblet drum. This prompts Escreet to overlay an almost conventional solo, before everything cuts again, Parker launching into one of his circular-breathing spirals. Spellbinding and epic, the final climax involves a relay of sinewy and simultaneous soloing. DB



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December 2021
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