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Various Artists: The Music of Eric von Essen Volume III

Jeff Gauthier at Cryptogramophone Records has made a mission of getting the music of Eric von Essen out to the world. An L.A.-based bass player and composer, von Essen died relatively young after leaving a modest mark on the LA jazz scene and teaching for a few years in Sweden. Gauthier, a violinist who once played in von Essen’s regular group Quartet Music, has now produced a third recording devoted entirely to the bassist’s music and performed largely by musicians who were von Essen’s friends and colleagues. A soft, downtempo recording, Volume III focuses on the ballad side of von Essen’s compositional body. In all, eight different configurations of musicians handle 10 von Essen tunes, and though they make very different aesthetic decisions with the each, the recording holds together rather well. This seems to have as much to do with the sleepy tempos and soft, acoustic sound as it does with the clear melodic imprint von Essen left on his tunes.

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