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John Escreet - The Epicenter of Your Dreams (Blue Room Music)

1 July 2024

As the number of great postbop pianists grows thin, one might wonder who will pick up the mantle of Don Pullen, Geri Allen, Andrew Hill, etc beyond Matthew Shipp (who exists in his own universe anyway). Might we suggest John Escreet? The British native truly showed his mettle on his last record Seismic Shift, deftly navigating that exciting zone between melody-driven hard bop and fence-smashing free jazz. Just to prove it was no fluke, Escreet ups on the ante on follow-up The Epicenter of Your Dreams. Joined by the Shift rhythm section of bassist Eric Revis and drummer Damion Reid, Escreet also recruits another melodist to add more color: saxophone great Mark Turner. Anyone who hires Turner expects him to be more than a mere sideperson, and the horn man acts accordingly, giving as good as he gets on the roiling “Lifeline” and the riveting “Meltdown.” But the leader is the leader, and Escreet shines like the sun here, whether he’s comping to showcase his guys’ talents or ripping across the keyboard. Check the vibrant “Other Side,” the wideranging “Trouble and Activity,” or the exemplary opener “Call It What It Is,” a perfect example of laying your cards on the table and showing us what we’re in for. With such a solid band with whom to collaborate, Escreet can’t help but bring his triple-A game, composing a set of great tunes for The Epicenter of Your Dreams and playing like fire.