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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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NATHAN EKLUND GROUP

Coin Flip

OA2 Records 22069

 

 


1. Rooicka's Castle
2. Professor Dissendadt
3. The Supernatural
4. Triple Shot Espresso
5. Happy's Sadness
6. Front Lawn
7. Coin Flip
8. One Year Ago Today
9. Chim's Paradise

Nathan Eklund - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Craig Yaremko - Saxophones
Steve Myerson - Fender Rhodes
Kellen Harrison - Bass
Shawn Baltazor - Drums

 

Trying to find a label for what is being described as contemporary jazz is proving to be very elusive. While it is often given the characterization of post-bop, that may not be the best narrative in attempting to sort through the musical jazz themes of the early 21st century. This is the self-definition challenge facing the Nathan Eklund Group with their recent release Coin Flip.

In this debut album for OA2 records, Eklund leads a quintet of New York scene musicians through nine Eklund original compositions, with a spotlight on musicality and harmony. Even as individual virtuosity is not forgotten, the compositions have a certain familiarity of structure. Although one may question Eklund's compositional breadth, there is no doubt about his trumpet quality and technical facility. The disc starts with a robust Rooicka's Castle, and then segues into a cool Professor Dissendadt, followed by The Supernatural, a composition which provides Eklund with a trumpet tour de force that harkens back to Dizzy Gillespie. Eklund and saxophonist Craig Yaremko, blast their way through Triple Shot Espresso, with staunch support from the strong rhythm section lead by Steve Myerson on Fender Rhodes piano. Myerson continues his piano foray into the restrained harmonic ballad Happy's Sadness, with some unison lines from Eklund and Yaremko. The title tune Coin Flip is a samba-derived track that gives the group an opportunity to display its cohesion. The album's closer is Chim's Paradise with a 5/4 time signature, which gives the tune some jump, and allows Myerson's single notes to blend perfectly with Eklund's trumpet passages.

As with the case of many of today's musicians, Eklund and his group are striving to find a place for themselves that draws on tradition, but does not fetter them to its constraints. Whether this is a formula for success remains to be seen.

Pierre Giroux



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