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May 11, 2006

CD Review Mark Eisenman/Apparition

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz news

CD Review / Jazz Instrumental
Mark Eisenman Quintet
Independent / May 2006

Pianist Mark Eisenman marks another major step in his already impressive career with the release of Apparition, nine tracks of his original composition performed by the cream of Canadian jazz.

The seasoned artist not only celebrates the twentieth anniversary of performing with his trio featuring bassist Steve Wallace and drummer John Sumner by having them perform on the recording, he also invites fellow Canadian greats trumpeter John MacLeod and saxophonist Pat Labarbara to join them in the studio.

It’s no surprise that Eisenman has earned a reputation for being an inspired and skillful player, his deep understanding of the idiom is clearly evidenced in his playing, as is his love for jazz music. His sensitive, lyrical approach supports his concise phrasing, and lends itself to this ensemble work. Eisenman’s composition matches the high level of musicianship he possesses, his work is informed, multi-dimensional and above all, musical. A fine communicator, his songs are both memorable and identifiable, with his voice revealing a healthy dose of respect for the masters of the past.

The recording is jazz in the true sense of the word, with lots of room for improvisation leaving the listener to hear the synthesis of the player’s individual voices, which Eisenman has artfully arranged to create a full palette of texture and colour. Eisenman brings a bright, crisp sound to the mix, while Wallace and Sumner provide a solid rhythm section that swings hard, creating a verdant bottom end. Saxophonist LaBarbera and trumpeter MacLeod add full-bodied spice to the sound, with their unison and harmonic lines interspersed with their accomplished solos.

Each one of these nine tracks offers flawless performances, starting with the first and title track “Apparition”, with it’s two-horn intro setting up a sparkling up-tempo swing. “Fathom” reveals the composer’s playful side with it’s urban blues feel and rhythmic melody punctuated by the horns and Eisenman’s beefy chords. “My Mahi”, is a lovely 3/4 waltz that is slightly reminiscent of Bill Evans in its chord voicings and phrasing, while “Gilt Be All Thy Stars” is a tender swing ballad with a riveting melody, shifting harmonic sensibility and deeply evocative performances by the three soloists. “Parker 102″ rips at breakneck speed, paying homage to the bop master in an artful and highly fluent rendition of Eisenman’s composition.

The interchange between Eisenman and his ensemble is balletic in its balance of emotional beauty and technical precision, and is another fine example of the superb quality of Canadian jazz. Highly recommended.

Cindy McLeod
www.jazzelements.com

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