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In This Day by E.J. Strickland

It’s not your prototypical drummer-led solo outing. As a venerable jazz-based session ace, E.J. Strickland has graced recordings by saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and twin brother, saxophonist Marcus Strickland amid a five-year engagement with guitarist Russell Malone. Yet here, the drummer asserts a broad musicality, featuring his quintet and complemented by Cheray O’Neals spoken word and Chareree Wade’s vocals on select tracks.

Strickland glides, floats and sizzles during these largely, up-tempo progressive jazz pieces that are engineered upon memorable themes. With special guests, percussionist Pedro Martinez and saxophonist/percussionist Yosvany Terry among others, the band simply breezes through peppery Latin motifs, for example. Moreover, Marcus Strickland’s fluidly stinging solos offer a razors-sharp edge within various passages, as the leader often steps up, then throttles back the various movements with polyrhythmic breaks and crisply executed dynamics.

Throughout these fourteen compositions, E.J. paints an optimistic slant, augmented by pianist Luis Perdomo and the articulate undercurrents set down by bassist Hans Glawischnig. On "Angular Realms," E.J. sparks remembrances of sax heroes Steve Coleman and Greg Osby’s M-Base sound, exercised on snappy grooves via a buoyant meshing of complex unison lines. And in other spots, they weave intricate storylines into concise and airy bop mechanisms. Overall, the leader’s first solo effort combines tasteful chops, alluring comps, and dazzling craftsmanship with an air of intrigue: it’s a program that beckons repeated listens.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: E.J. Strickland
  • CD Title: In This Day
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Strick Muzik
  • Musicians: E.J. Strickland (drums), Jabeel Shaw (alto sax), Marcus Strickland (soprano & tenor sax), Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass) ... plus many other guests.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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