Harris Eisenstadt: The Soul and Gone

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.