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John Escreet: The Age We Live In

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Expatriate Brit keyboard player John Escreet has carved out a niche for himself that lies somewhere between Frank Zappa and Weather Report. A formidable, intelligent player-composer with a fertile imagination and a surplus of energy, Escreet has taken things up a couple of notches since last year’s Don’t Fight the Inevitable. Part of the reason for that is the presence of guitarist Wayne Krantz, a bona fide guitar hero with an abundance of chops.

But the secret weapon here is Marcus Gilmore, who is emerging as one of the best and brightest of the new crop of flexible young drummers who are able to subdivide beats like mathematicians while slamming, syncopating and otherwise grooving a piece. On The Age We Live In, Gilmore navigates the impossibly intricate, odd-metered terrain of challenging pieces like the Zappa-esque “The Domino Effect” and “A Day in Music” while demonstrating his singular authority on the kit. On Krantz’s “Half Baked” and the 11-minute, suite-like title track, he outright dominates.

Krantz’s uncanny rhythmic precision comes into play on the hyper-drive number “Kickback,” and he turns in scintillating, jaw-dropping solos on “The Age We Live In” and “The Domino Effect.” The atmospheric and evocative “Hidden Beauty” and the sparse, ambient “As the Moon Disappears” (featuring Escreet on piano, synth and whistling) provide a break from all the rampaging virtuosity. Gilmore unleashes a throbbing drum solo on the disco-fied jam “Stand Clear,” which sees Krantz play driving basslines while Escreet wails on the Fender Rhodes. Alto saxophonist David Binney, an important part of Escreet’s previous release and a potent force throughout this project, dons his Wayne Shorter hat for a sublime solo on the hauntingly beautiful ballad “Another Life.”

Originally Published