Earprint is a quartet of improvising musicians-trumpeter Tree Palmedo, saxophonist Kevin Sun, bassist Simón Willson, and drummer Dor Herskovits. "Easy Listening" is the second album by the quartet, that in the words of liner notes writer Jacob Shulman, "see modern jazz as an invitation to unleash their creativity, their modern-day influences, and their vision of what a jazz quartet can sound like, which is loosely tethered to the blues but shares the same root system." Shulman further observes that the blues is an important "river" for Earprint, with the streams of both rock and jazz (two major descendants of the blues) playing roles in their sound. "The rough energy of Nirvana meets the transcendent progressivism of Mark Turner; psychedelic tinges of Jimi Hendrix recolor the counterpoint of Thelonious Monk."
Each of the four members contributed compositions for this piano-less quartet. What is impressive is that Earprint, with instrumentation akin to the classic Ornette Coleman Quartet, produces music that mixes elements of freedom with a deep melodic underpinning. Listening to a selection like "Toupée," the band builds a lyrical quality from the horn harmonies. This is not to give short shrift to the players' individual qualities. The spirited "Big Bear" allows Palmedo and Sun to display the fire they can bring before Dor Herskovits' concise drum solo closes the performance. Sun's "Silo" enables Palmedo to display his frayed-toned lyricism. Sun adds counterpoint and the horns riff in unison while Willson solos over Herskovits' rhythmic accents. Then there is the charm of Willson's "Easy Listening," with its delightful Caribbean rhythms supporting the concise improvisations from the horns and the interplay between the horns and the rhythm section.
"Easy Listening" brings together a first-rate group with exceptional soloists on a program of intriguing compositions. The result is this outstanding recording.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a performance by Earprint.