Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Harris Eisenstadt: Rhythm & Range

A drummer/bandleader composes from the bottom up

Harris Eisenstadt
Harris Eisenstadt

In the sweaty basement room at the Brooklyn bar Sycamore in August, Harris Eisenstadt sat behind his kit with his head cocked back, listening with a bemused grin on his face. Trumpeter Nate Wooley was telling, with bone-dry humor, the story behind one of his compositions. But after launching into the intricate piece, Eisenstadt’s expression seemed identical: listening, alert, mildly but pleasantly surprised by the sound.

That countenance is indicative of Eisenstadt’s style as both a drummer and a composer, roles that weigh on his work with equal importance. His music trades on the balance of invention and cohesion, finding vivid beauty in the harmonious commingling of distinctly spontaneous voices. It also springs directly from his identity as a drummer, not in show-offy percussive assaults but in the rhythmic base in which every other element of his music is rooted. “It’s not that I think ‘drumistically’ or ‘soloistically,'” Eisenstadt explains, “so much as the fact that I just think rhythmically first. Even writing harmony or melodies or thinking about textures or forms, it’s a central preoccupation.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published