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Wayne Escoffery: Intuition

Tenor player Wayne Escoffery is another in the long line of facile young tenor players who’ve polished their Coltrane and Shorter chops into a bright and shiny simulacrum of the original-which should be enough to get him lots of gigs, but not, I’m sorry to say, enough to get more than middling review from me. On Intuition (Nagel-Heyer) Escoffery plays super-fast and clean, with a self-assuredness that cannot obscure the fact that he sounds more or less like any of a zillion other super-fast and clean 1960s-postbop revivalists.

Among the sidemen, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is somewhat interesting. The ultra-adept drummer Ralph Peterson has moments where he doesn’t overplay-for instance on Escoffery’s ballad “The First One” (if that sounds like damning with faint praise, then bingo). Escoffery is a skillful, musical player, but he’s chosen to work in a jazz subgenre so codified that a computer might as well determine its parameters. If he could manage to forget most of what he was taught in jazz school and, instead, learn to actually rely on his intuition-instead of just paying it lip service-he might turn out to be a monster.

Originally Published