ES2 is a jazz sextet led by keyboardist Eliot Smith and trombonist Erick Storckman—get it, ES squared. Now while I like clever word play as much as the next guy, what I want from a new jazz disc is good music. Happily, Smith, Storckman and their cohorts have loaded their new album, AlgoRhythms (more clever word play) with more than enough of the good stuff to keep the snarky among us from cringing at the cutesy language.
Working with original compositions by either Smith or Storckman or the two in combination, the sextet takes a varied journey through a broad sector of the jazz spectrum. Both composers start with memorable melodies and arrangements that give them and their talented crew plenty of opportunity for inventive solo work, opportunities they take full advantage of. From the opening number, “Orange Peel” with strong solo work from Storckman, as well as saxophonist Cliff Lyons and Pete McCann on guitar, to the gospel-driven closer, “At Long Last,” with Storckman taking the lead for Lyons to join in, the ensemble delivers the goods.
While I am tempted to say they save the best for last, there is too much fine music throughout for that to be entirely true. There are those that will find the lightly Latin-rhythmed “Poor as Food” more to their taste, and those who will prefer McCann’s twangy talking guitar work on the groovy “Swanky Goes Shopping.”
There are those who will like the funky vibe of “Job Search,” although I, for one, would get rid of the opening spoken work intro and the ambient city noise. “Our Man in Verona” has an infectious melody and the solos are dynamic and powerful.
“Midnight, Michigan Avenue” is introduced by drummer Scott Neumann, who continues along with Smith’s electric piano and the electric bass of Andy Eulau to lay a solid foundation for this bop excursion. In other words, there is something on the album for many different tastes.
AlgoRhythms is a solid piece of work, the kind of album that deserves some attention.
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