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Wednesday October 22, 2014
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Ellery Eskelin

 

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from well-known saxophonists and apprenticed as a sideman with, among others, the popular organist Jack McDuff. Of course, New York is always filled with aspiring musicians, and work is scarce; many of them get nowhere or struggle in the world of commercial music. As hard as it may be, this situation favors creative endeavors, and Eskelin found himself moving into more experimental areas, collaborating with other musicians who were crossing genre boundaries and moving improvised music into new directions. He flourished in this environment and left the world of mainstream jazz behind, developing one of the top tenor saxophone voices in the new "downtown" music.

Twenty years later Eskelin is still living in New York, but he works all over the world, touring with his own group and working and recording with a broad range of other musicians, including Sylvie Courvoisier, Han Bennink, and Gerry Hemingway. But his most important project is his own group, which he formed ten years ago with drummer Jim Black and accordionist Andrea Parkins. This was an unusual instrumentation, to say the least. Parkins soon expanded her instrumental palette, adding synthesizer and sampler and, more recently, the acoustic piano to the mix.

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