December 2005

Harris Eisenstadt
The Soul and Gone
482 Music

Drummer Harris Eisenstadt's post-tonal compositions for sextet are interesting, yet his band never seems entirely comfortable with the material on The Soul and Gone. There's a great deal of quiet shambling in place--quick exchanges of random, noisy gestures--and lots of clinking and clanking, insecure entries and exits. The uncertainty is conspicuous.

Eisenstadt surrounds himself with some fine players-- bassist Jason Roebke and trombonist Jeb Bishop in particular--yet the prevailing aura of restraint requires that they not cut loose. The Dolphyesque "Kola #2" is, for my money, the best cut, simply because it's the least self-conscious: Eisenstadt swings lightly, Roebke walks a good line and altoist Jason Mears does a nice free-boppish turn. As a drummer, Eisenstadt seems rather in love with the small gesture, which undoubtedly accounts for the dynamically and texturally restricted air that pervades much of this music. Eisenstadt is a talented guy who would do well to broaden his dynamic scope more consistently, jettison a bit of the "new music" artsy-fartsy-ness, and concentrate on the more expressive, unaffected qualities of his work.

Originally published in December 2005
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