Tag Archives: Canada Day

The New York Times review by Nate Chinen

A Melting Pot of All Kinds of Rhythms, Harmonies and Vamps

Harris Eisenstadt, a drummer and composer originally from Toronto, takes a fixer’s approach to music making, looking for ways to fit the pieces together. He works along jazz’s progressive fringe but doesn’t generally set out to make a ruckus. In his own music especially, he often seems intent on extracting consonance from dissonance or forging ungainliness into grace.

His most recent album, “Woodblock Prints” (No Business), presents a prepossessing take on chamber jazz, with a lineup that includes bassoon, French horn, electric guitar, tuba and trombone. He applies the same creative standard to a more conventionally shaped quintet, Canada Day, which released its self-titled debut last year and is scheduled to record a follow-up this weekend. Mr. Eisenstadt brought the band to the Cornelia Street Café on Monday night, playing music that will presumably end up on that release.

The first set opened with a coordinated spasm. Mr. Eisenstadt and his rhythm-section partners, the vibraphonist Chris Dingman and the bassist Eivind Opsvik, locked into an odd-metered vamp, while the tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder floated long tones above. Against this off-center but stable foundation, the trumpeter Nate Wooley improvised in breathy blurts, a dark graffiti scrawl. It was abstract expressionism, but the tune, “To See/Tootie,” never sealed itself off, inviting engagement instead.

This was partly a matter of texture. Mr. Eisenstadt played with a keen ear for it, creating a breadth of sound with his drums and cymbals, but at the lowest necessary threshold of volume. And Mr. Dingman, the harmonic center of the band, voiced even oblique chords with a crushed-velvet touch, letting them resonate softly in the room. The hollow sound of Mr. Opsvik’s bass furthered an impression of warmth, as did the tone of Mr. Bauder’s tenor (shadowy, rounded) and the timbre of Mr. Wooley’s horn (matte finish, no-glare).

The compositions often involved some rhythmic sleight of hand: in “To Eh,” a skittering double-time beat over an angular bass line, suggesting two simultaneous tempos; in “To Be,” a melody oscillating between eighth notes and eighth-note triplets, giving the impression of a shift in gears.

But there was also plenty of harmonic action embedded in the tunes. “To Seventeen” had trumpet and saxophone pushing forward in intertwining strands, their lines periodically connecting to suggest an evocative chord.

And in the set closer — “Song for Owen,” dedicated to Mr. Eisenstadt’s son — the front line shared a quirky melody in octaves, over a light midtempo swing. The song was closer to normative post-bop than anything preceding it in the set, but its harmonies didn’t resolve quite the way you would expect, leaving the impression of a lullaby left to warp on a dashboard, or viewed through a distorting lens. And yet the band gave it a sense of proportion and finesse, leaving nothing out of place.

Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157) ****
O baterista canadiano Harris Eisenstadt estreou-se na Clean Feed com um álbum de inspiração africana, Guewel, mas aqui muda bruscamente de latitude para render homenagem ao seu país natal. Rodeou-se para tal de quatro jovens jazzmen cheios de talento – Nate Wooley trompete), Matt Bauder (sax), Chris Dingman (vibrafone) e Eivind Opsvik (contrabaixo) – e compôs oito peças bem variadas.
Num disco que sendo assumidamente moderno, é capaz de seduzir “tradicionalistas”, destaquem-se “After an Outdoor Bath”, com ritmos fluidos e deslizantes e solos de impressionante vitalidade e invenção por Wooley e Bauder, e “Halifax”, de pulsação encantatória e em que Eisenstadt mostra, com a discrição que lhe é usual, a sua deslumbrante panóplia de recursos.

Jazz Blog reviews by Peter Hum

Labels we love VI: Clean Feed

A while back, my fellow jazz journalist *** musician *** dayjobber Bernard Stepien professed to me that he was much better schooled in the avant-garde music of the 1960s and 1970s, and much less conversant with today’s shape of jazz to come. My response to him was: “You should check out what’s on Clean Feed.”

That’s the name of a prolific, nine-year-old Lisbon-based record company, recognized as a leading label by the post-free jazz connoisseurs. According to the Clean Feed website, its 150 recordings are “innovative contemporary jazz projects that can make a difference, building a catalogue that will be internationally recognized by its quality and coherence.” Today, I’ll consider three recent Clean Feed discs, which are admittedly a very small sample to take the measure of the label. 

In addition to recordings by many lesser known but accomplished North American and European players, Clean Feed has released several discs by some of the avant-jazz scene’s established players. Among them is Things Have Got to Change, from reedman and composer Marty Ehlrich. He’s a multi-instrumentalist in his mid-50s who writes for and performs in a variety of instrumentations, and his collaborations with such Association for the Advance of Creative Musicians (AACM) stalwarts as  Muhal Richard Abrams, Leo Smith and Leroy Jenkins go back to the late 1970s. Ehrlich’s Clean Feed disc finds him limiting himself to playing alto saxophone and leading his Rites Quartet, which includes trumpeter James Zollar, cellist Erik Friedlander and drummer Pheeroan Aklaff, all established and admired players in the segment of the jazz community where playing on changes and grooving hard meld with departures from harmonic constraints and other colourful flourishes. Things Have Got to Change consists of five Ehrlich compositions and three by his avant-jazz elder, the saxophonist Julius Hemphill. Throughout, the music is filled with simpatico and vivid expression, as the moods change from tranquil to jagged to urgent to funky — it often feels celebratory.

The disc’s first two tracks are engaging, medium-tempo free-boppers — Rite Rhythms is driven by Friedlander’s groovy ostinato and Aklaff’s minimalist percussion, while Dung, an unrecorded Hemphill composition,  swings as Friedlander plucks quarter notes. Ehrlich and Zollar are both riveting players, alternating liquid lines and piercing cries. Some Kind of Prayer is naturally more sombre, with Zollar’s horn muted and Friedlander picking up his bow for Ehrlich’s hymnal theme. After On the One’s austere bowed cello introduction, Ehrlich and Friedlander state the song’s theme and spin bracing, intertwined melodies. Hemphill’s Dogon A.D. blends odd meter and dissonance with gutsy blues and funk.

I’m very much enjoying the hard-rocking, imaginative and evocative disc Voladores  from Tony Malaby’s Apparitions. Malaby’s a saxophonist in his mid-40s whose combination of brawn, tenderness and unfettered creativity has landed him gigs with John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band and other impeccablly inside-and-outside-the-box groups. Malaby’s group Apparitions includes three extremely versatile musicians — bassist Drew Gress, drummer Tom Rainey and drummer John Hollenbeck, who plays not just drums but also marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone and vibraphone, melodica — a whooshy mood-maker in his hands — and even “small kitchen appliances.” As you would expect, the music is always richly textured.

Malaby’s disc is continually delightful, with a masterful mix of direct playing and structural surprises, primal melodies and deep, yet intriguing grooves. The musicians are extraordinarily connected — the evocative music feels less like a parade of solos and more like a succession of group passages, even as Malaby and company tinker with our expectations in terms of how the songs evolve (The standard arcs for a song’s flow of intensity don’t apply on Voladores — and that’s a good thing.) Sour Diesel, Old Smokey and Los Voladores  in particular pack an appealing blend of earthy rhythms and mystery and ought to woo discriminating alt-music listeners. I especially like the programmatic pleasures of Dreamy Drunk, with its slow, baleful beginning giving way to an echo-enhanced stretch of drum-n-bass, which in turn yields to a surprising, rocking conclusion.

Equally brash and mysterious  — despite its title — is Canada Day, from drummer Harris Eisenstadt, a New York-based Canadian expat. Eisenstadt’s joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley, tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder, vibraphonist Chris Dingman on vibraphone and bassist Eivind Opsvik for a set of originals. While these players may be lesser known, they’re do-it-all musicians to a man, balancing sophisticated harmonic playing with more timbrally motivated sounds to create some mighty expansive music. Given this lineup of instruments and how the musicians choose to play them, it’s hard not to think of such mid-1960s inside/out classics as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch and Jackie McLean’s Destination Out as big-time influences. However Eisenstadt’s music has a contemporary cast too, especially on the fractured funk of After an Outdoor Bath. That track features some especially expressive, hyper-vocal tenor work from Bauder that to me brings to mind both Wayne Shorter and Sam Rivers. Not to be out done, Wooley incorporates sputtering, wheezing and screeching into his solo, to fine effect. Kategeeper is a jumpy, angular, broken funk groover that keeps tensions high. More tranquil and spacious, although nonetheless foreboding, is Eisenstadt’s Halifax. 

That’s a live version of Sentinel, a slow and heavy Masson composition that appears on his quartet’s CD Thirty Six Ghosts. Joining Masson are Colin Vallon playing electric piano, acoustic bassist Patrick Moret and drummer Lionel Friedli for a set of tunes that pull ever so naturally from free jazz, rock, pop to create a wonderfully disorienting blend. Like the North American musicians mentioned above, Masson and his countrymen are intrepid sonic explorers. The disc’s opener, Sirius, supplies emotional complexity from the get-go, with Masson spins melancholy and increasingly urgent lines over floating electric piano chords, burbling bass and clattering drums and cymbals. Le Phasme  is a slow, spare, altered-state song with a patient, shimmering solo by Vallon setting up a cresting turn by Masson. Hellboy is dense, messy, funky and chunky, with Vallon uncorking long lines and distorting his machine’s sound before Masson joins him for the angular theme. Bermuda is all about mixed-meter mysteries, with just a hint of blues, thrown in. Closing the disc is Yurel a plaintive rock ballad — its directness and unabashed lyricism leaven one’s listening after the darker preceding tracks.

Finally, I’ll mention Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns, from the Will Holshouser Trio, joined by the Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti. Holhouser’s a New York accordionist, who has been working with trio-mates David Phillips on bass and trumpeter Ron Horton for a dozen years. Their collaboration with Sassetti is the most tuneful of the Clean Feed discs I’m considering today, riddled as it is with strains of folk and classical chamber music. But there’s edginess and lots of improvisatory gusto as well, not to mention plenty of timbral awareness. I like the stately tinge of Danca Palaciana and playfulness of Dance of the Dead. Department of Peace is an understated but moving ballad filled with clear, rich harmonies and Horton’s affecting, pure horn — a song in search of a foreign movie.

In a bit of cross-platform collaboration, I’ve handed these discs, as well as others by Clean Feed, to Stepien, who will be playing selected tracks on Rabble Without A Cause, his CKCU radio program, tonight (Jan. 13) at 11 p.m. Click here to catch the show on the Interweb.

Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

Clean Feed on All About Jazz New York “Best of 2009” list

Best Record Label


Best New Release 2009
Herculaneum – Herculaneum III (CF 140)
Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)

Best New Release 2009 – Honorable Mention 
Denman Maroney Quintet – Udentity (CF 137)
Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Michael Blake/Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Paul Dunmall’s Sun Quartet – Ancient and Future Airs (CF 138 )

Renku – In Coimbra (CF 162)
Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148 )
Trespass Trio – “…was there to illuminate the night sky…” (CF 149)

Best Debut Release
Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)

Best Original Album Artwork 
Avram Fefer – Ritual (CF 145)

Gapplegate review by Grego Edwards

Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)

Preparation and Spontaneity
With a couple of years of rehearsals and gigs under their belt, drummer Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day shows in their new recording that persistence pays off if talent is not lacking. The sort of modern jazz produced on the Clean Feed release has a group cohesion that comes after hard work and time have ripened and matured the initial group idea and concept.

It is no accident or whim that Canada reminds me a little of Albert and Bishop’s group Lucky 7s. Both have horns, vibes and rhythm as the starting components, both have strong compositions and arrangements and equally strong soloists, and both have a free-wheeling loosely propulsive vibes-and-rhythm team. This to me is an indication of a healthy trend in the modern jazz produced today.

The similarities between the two groups are not superficial; however the personalities of the players and the nature of the compositions and arrangements distinguish the two groups as unique entities, not surprisingly.

Canada Day showcases the strong writing of its leader, Harris Eisenstadt. There are composed sections intertwined with the work of players with well developed identities. Nate Wooley has trumpet polish and finesse yet can articulate both as emphatically and as colorfully as the need or the inner urge dictates. This album shows why he has rapidly become a characteristic presence on the New York scene. His tenor mate Matt Bauder may be lesser known, but he turns in some fine performances here, solidly compact, lucid improvisational statements. Then of course the vibes-bass-drums team of Chris Dingman, Eivind Opsvik (who impresses me), and Mr. Eisenstadt, repectively, have much to do with the identity of the group sound. They drive and harmonically construct the foundation for what transpires. And they do it in ways that are creative and loosely flowing. Harris has a terrific sense of what to play and what not to play. He can be busy without in any way disrupting to totality of what’s going on at any moment.

This is a CD that keeps getting better with every listen. There is enough there that you hear some of the more subtle aspects only after long exposure. Now that’s a trait only the very best music has, to my mind.

Jazz and Blues review by Tim

Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
A patriotic album that doesn’t resort to brash jingoism… how refreshing! Drummer and composer Harris Eisenstadt has become a mainstay of the growing Brooklyn scene, while performing as a leader and a sideman around the world. Along with Eisenstadt are: Nate Wooley on trumpet, Matt Bauder on tenor saxophone, Chris Dingman on vibraphone and Eivind Opsvik on bass. Opening with “Don’t Gild the Lilly,” they strike a medium tempo with probing vibes and horns blowing across the musical landscape of vibes, bass and drums. Wolley takes a pinched sounding solo over rolling drum accompaniment that is fascinating in its own right. Bass begins “Halifax” with a mellow feel, adding saxophone and drums to the mix. Vibes enter and shimmer along the edges of the open and spacious music. “After an Outdoor Bath” is one of the finest performances on the album, opening with some strong full band playing, Bauder steps up with a deep, visceral tenor saxophone solo followed by sputtering spitfire trumpet. great shifting drum work anchors this exciting and exploratory performance. “And When To Come Back” slows things down a little bit with light percussion and soft vibes laying the groundwork for the tempered horns floating over the proceedings. After a lengthy bass solo, the full group returns to improvise and then close the song. “Kategeeper” and “Ups and Down” have a more rapid pace and plenty of room for the horns to stretch out and improvise impressively. It’s a burden to lay on any group, but the music on this album reminded me of Eric Dolphy’s masterpiece Out To Lunch more than anything else. The angular nature of the Eisenstadt’s compositions, and the sparkling addition by Dingman’s vibes made me think of the great inside/outside music recorded by the likes of Dolphy, Sam River and Bobby Hutcherson for Blue Note in the early to mid 1960’s. It’s heavy company, but well deserved. http://jazzandblues.blogspot.com/2009/11/harris-eisenstadt-canada-day-clean-feed.html