San Francisco based trumpeter Erik Jekabson leads three groups including String-tet, the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra and the sextet heard here. He also runs the Young Musicians Program at the California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley. He’s also a regular instructor at Jazzcamp West, the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the Lafayette Summer Jazz Workshop and the Brubeck Institute and has written two books of jazz duets for trumpet.
This album is the eighth recorded under Jekabson’s own name and is the follow-up to the eponymous Erik Jekabson Sextet (Wide Hive Records, 2018). His debut album Intersection was recorded in New York in 2002 and released on the Fresh Sound New Talent label.
Jekabson has surrounded himself with some excellent sidemen and he himself is no mean trumpeter, boasting the ability to play with both panache and sensitivity. The calibre of the personnel can be detected instantly on the lively opening number Days Of Haze, which evinces a Brecker Brothers feel. The soloing too is immediately impressive, commencing with Dave Ellis’s lithe soprano, followed by Jekabson on trumpet and a fairly scorching solo by Dave McNab on guitar.
The slower-paced Dusk is ruminative and here Jekabson turns in a thoughtful, ruminative solo.
There’s plenty of stylistic variety here as in the breezy Latinesque Full House or by stark contrast the mournful The Growing Place. But there’s also a bit of retrospective referencing here in the shape of tunes like the bluesy groove of Brother Todd, the likes of which could easily have been heard in the early 1970s. However, it’s still very finely executed and peppered with engaging solos and a catchy ensemble head.
The outlier on this album is the elegiac title track in which spoken-word vocals are provided by Avotcja, reciting her arresting and engaging poem over a lugubrious score, augmented by a two-violin string section. But it’s certainly a break from the other more conventional compositions.
As for the remaining numbers, as already stated, there’s a tendency to oscillate between unequivocally upbeat numbers such as Shaker Funk and sombre moodiness as heard on the closer When You Went Away. But there’s nothing particularly wrong with this approach and the consistently high level of musicianship more than compensates for the emotional roller coaster of selection placement.
(1) Days Of Haze; Dusk; Brother Todd; Bell Song; (2) One Note At A Time (I Cry Creativity); (1) Full House; The Growing Place; Shaker Funk; When You Went Away (60.00)
(1) Jekabson (t, flh); Dave Ellis (ts, ss); Dave MacNab (elg); John Wiitala (b); David Flores (d); John Santos (cga, pc); (2) add Avotcja (v); Mads Tolling, Alisa Rose (vn). Berkeley, California, 29 October 2018.
Wide Hive Records 0349