[26 July 2010]
In spite of gentrification’s better efforts to scare it off, creative jazz continues to thrive in downtown New York City. And one of the legendary scene’s most impressive young lions is pianist/composer Jesse Elder, whose debut album The Winding Shell is the excellent product of relentless nightly gigging on the Manhattan jazz circuit, playing at such notable cubs as the Blue Note, the Jazz Standard, Smalls, and Fat Cat, among others. This nine-track set was recorded with a stellar ensemble featuring tenor sax Gary Thomas, who worked with the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, and Sam Rivers; second sax Jeremy Viner of the Steve Lehman Octet, bassist Chris Tordini, and drummer Shawn Sorey. It echoes the spirit of such freedom jazz essentials as Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures and Archie Shepp’s The Way Ahead, as this group shows its chops across staggering compositions like “Solar Plexus”, “Flight of the Pelican”, and “Red Paint”. The Winding Shell will show you why the likes of John Zorn and Steve Coleman keep Jesse Elder in their phone books.