Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Drummer and composer Harris Eisenstadt has, at age 33, a rather lengthy discography and one that’s incredibly diverse for a drummer who could have stuck to cutting teeth as an able sideman in contemporary improvisation. As a leader, his story is even more expansive, running the gamut from Senegalese Mbalax to free-bop. Canada Day is a “love letter” to his home country and to the mid ’60s music of Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams. Across a breadth of eight pieces, most of which reference travel, home and experience, the leader is joined by regular collaborators (trumpeter Nate Wooley and vibraphonist Chris Dingman) and new conscripts (tenor man Matt Bauder and bassist Eivind Opsvik).
“Don’t Gild the Lily” is both infectious and suspended, a woody vamp set in motion by Opsvik and Eisenstadt, carpeted by glassy mallet tones and cottony tenor slink. Dingman works the taut melody, chewing it in fragments before setting its intervals into a resonant cascade, while Bauder and Wooley provide dirty split-tone backing, using snatches of the noise vocabulary that both have acquainted themselves with through years of cross-genre experimentation. “Halifax” brings into focus a measured minimalism in its easy lope. Bauder’s salty, quixotic inversions take the reins over fractured bass and drum set accompaniment, channeling Shorter and manipulating ‘-isms’ through a screwy series of leaps. The rhythm players never cease their drive, for even as notions of conventional meter get disassembled, Opsvik’s pliant groove and Eisenstadt’s detailed jabs hold the pulse.
It’s not too difficult to hear connections between Canada Day and Shorter’s The All-Seeing Eye (Blue Note, 1965), which in 2007 the drummer re-imagined as a chamber suite. The themes coolly state and then reexamine the tropes of post-bop, nudging the music into areas of unresolved time, melody and freedom.