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Amazingly for a jazz pianist, John Escreent has recorded eight previous albums, but Seismic Shift is his first with a trio. The U.K.-born Los Angeleno chooses his cohorts well: drummer Damion Reid has plenty of experience with Robert Glasper, among others, while bassist Eric Revis has spent his entire career proving he can play anything with anyone. Good thing, too, as Escreet is a keyboard warrior of the boundary-pushing post bop school – think Don Pullen, Geri Allen, Andrew Hill or Stanley Cowell, whose “Equipoise” gets marvelously covered here and whose inspiration provided the title to the frenetic, freely improvised “Outward and Upward.” (Exactly.) That means he’s as likely to bash at the 88s like Cecil Taylor in a fury as lay back and provide lyrical chordwork and subtle support for his bandmates. Fittingly for the first tune, “Study No. 1” serves as a menu featuring all of the above, letting us know up front what we’re in for with the comfort-to-chaos “Perpetual Love,” the rip-roaring yet melodic “Digital Tulips,” and the rumbling, rippling title track. The trio ends the record with the lengthy wandering mind of “The Water is Tasting Worse,” just to keep the mood unsettled and only slightly savory. With so many pianists of this stripe gone, it’s comforting to know that John Escreet keeps the flame alight and burning his fingers.
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