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Peter Epstein/Scott Colley/Peter Erskine: Old School

If you have any affinity toward the new jazz, as it was once called, or free jazz, you will be drawn immediately into this disc. Three like-thinking musicians went into St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan, started playing in front of two microphones and four hours later, this disc was finished. But from listening to the solid ensemble and solo work and to the absolutely lifelike realism of the recording, you would have thought this to be a long-labored, mega-studio production.

There is a bit of the energy and feel of Ornette Coleman’s classic sessions, especially in the opening tune, “Vitamin C,” as Colley’s strumming bass and Erskine’s light drum work underpin a lithe, lyrical alto statement by Epstein, a very solid player whose name is not familiar to most, but inevitably will be someday soon. And the almost mirthful and downright melodic drum introduction to “Meanwhile” is ample evidence for Erskine’s well-deserved reputation: as the other two musicians slink into the action, the laid-back, ultracool mood of the piece offers plenty of room for everyone to stretch out admirably.

As for the production, I can’t say enough positive things about producer and engineer Todd Garfinkle’s minimalist approach, done simply with two microphones and a 96kHz, high-sampling recorder. I’ve never heard an M*A record yet that didn’t give me goose bumps for its holographic realism. I wish every jazz producer working today would pay attention to this guy-the jump in sound quality would be geometric.

Originally Published