By Martin Longley | Published January 2017
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
The Unkown: Part I; Part II. (74:47)
Personnel: John Escreet, piano; Evan Parker, tenor saxophone; John Hébert, bass; Tyshawn Sorey, drums, vibraphone, percussion.