Ellery Eskelin & Gerry Hemingway

August 14, 2008 Recording Session

Ellery Eskelin and Gerry Hemingway began their musical association in 1997 in the context of Mr. Hemingway’s quartet first documented on the Auricle Records CD “Johnny’s Corner Song”. The concept of performing duo emerged out of a mutual interest to explore the mutual musical understandings that have grown over the course of the past thirteen years of performing together. Over the course of those years Ellery & Gerry have performed together on two Gerry Hemingway Quartet cds both released on Clean Feed Records, Devils Paradise & The Whimbler. Ellery is also featured on an upcoming release also on Clean Feed in 2011 of a new version of the Gerry Hemingway Quintet, with Ellery, Oscar Noriega, Terrence McManus and Kermit Driscoll. The duo has proved to be a fertile musical terrain for both players and plans are set to tour in future years as part of the roster of projects of these very busy musicians. Recorded in July of 2008.

Inbetween Spaces

Ellery Eskelin
tenor saxophone
Gerry Hemingway
drums, percussion, voice

1. motion and thought 10:56
2. stillness and flow 10:41
3. sustain and footwork 11:42
4. deft and bounce 8:41
5. shaken and spill 13:52
6. stars and treetops 11:02

Total time 67:06

All works by Ellery Eskelin & Gerry Hemingway © 2010
Recorded August 14, 2008 in Plainsboro, NJ
Recording, Postproduction, Mastering & Design by Gerry Hemingway
Produced by Ellery Eskelin & Gerry Hemingway
Inside performance photo Scott Friedlander © 2010
Cover photo by Jordan Hemingway

Review fromTouching Extremes Massimo Ricci April 30, 2011

The dialogue between Eskelin (on tenor sax) and Hemingway begins with a moody encounter – “Motion And Thought” – tinged with “noir-jazz” hues, two old inhabitants of the same building coming back to their native neighbourhood, sincerely embracing then talking amiably of the past. The conversation’s intelligibility is facilitated by the magnification of the smaller details caused by a magnificent recording quality, warm-sounding and close to the core of the instruments. “Stillness And Flow” pairs bowed cymbals and sinuous figurations, emphasizing the nuances of the air flowing through the mouth/tube connection in a blend of severity, physicality and abstraction. “Sustain And Footwork” follows a slightly different path, juxtaposing the ringing traits and the elasticity of Hemingway’s percussive legerdemain and Eskelin’s attempts to rationalize his explorations of territories where timid wafting and cluttered outbreaks reside, still maintaining an expositive clarity that lets everybody in at last. While “Deft And Bounce” is a briskly swinging duet exalting the duo’s nimbleness and – in a way – lyricism, “Shaken And Spill” leaves a greater number of open doors and larger spaces, relaxation and improvisational nosiness walking hand in hand during hardly predictable snapshots culminating in a series of assertive flare-ups. “Stars And Treetops” closes the CD with a ceremonial aura of sorts: repetitive patterns, metallic gradations and semiconscious meandering around hypothetical tonal centres unite in rewarding fashion.

Review from Glenn Astarita AAJ September 6, 2011

The formidable duo of drummer Gerry Hemingway and tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin leans heavily on the artistic spectrum by enacting lucid imagery when navigating through dimly lit corridors and wide-open spaces. The stereo separation enhances the capacious aspects of this impressive outing.

The duo leaves a bit of room in-between, while eliciting responses from its listening audience. At times aggressive, ominous and pensive, the musicians propagate a set of intriguing storylines throughout the variable sound designs.

On "Sustain and Footwork," they offer a metaphorical depiction of an unhurried strut, tinted with subtle theatrics, and wily maneuvers. Quirky, experimental, yet cogently developed, Hemingway sets the pace in motion via a prancing groove that alludes to the sound of footsteps, tendering a framework for Eskelin's blustery articulations and darting lines.

The duo excels at theme construction and offers a basis for the mind to interconnect with the shadowy progressions, raising the pitch and closing it out on an ephemeral whimper. These longtime collaborators and noteworthy stylists are among the leaders of the new jazz, amid all the cunning abstracts and improvisational mechanisms that underscore their magnitude within the grand schema.

Clifford Allen Blogspot

Tenorman Ellery Eskelin and percussionist Gerry Hemingway have a long history together in New York's downtown scene in larger groups as well as scaled-down conversations, though Inbetween Spaces (on Hemingway's recently revived Auricle imprint) is their first official release as a duo. One might say that it's about time considering the breadth of their shared experience. Eskelin is a player who is quite able to navigate traditional and open-form frameworks, exploring areas of softness alongside hard-bitten phrasing. Hemingway, too, has traversed historical lineage qua Klook and Max (the term "free-bop" was practically invented for the work of BassDrumBone) as well as engaging a somewhat "Europeanized" approach to tonal coloring.

Throughout the six improvisations on Inbetween Spaces Hemingway is on fire, presenting a detailed energy that gives Eskelin a range of different shoves – broad brushstrokes on the opening "Motion and Thought," sashaying augmented patterns behind thick, unhurried tenor chugs. As density increases, the pair still conveys a boppish lilt, reedy and loosely referential arpeggios buoyed by an even urgency. "Stillness and Flow" seems like it could easily cross over into contemporary non-idiomatic acoustics, Hemingway scraping cymbals and gongs toward deep, metallic resonance as Eskelin flutters and teases out pillowy harmonics. Eskelin's voice is beholden to the American tenor lineage, conscious of phrases and lyricism in a way that's relevant to a sounding dialogue. In that sense, the duo retains a timeworn bent despite drawing from sources that butt up against "experimental" improvisation (especially in Hemingway's use of techniques one might find in an Alvin Lucier percussion piece).

Baby Dodds and Sonny Greer make their way into the dry gallop of "Sustain and Footwork," as well as the plastic tubworks of New York street musicians, which complement beautifully Eskelin's burnished wrangling. Following the straight-arrow crackle of "Deft and Bounce" (there really aren't any other words to describe it), "Shaken and Spill" traverses Parker/Lytton territory in its first few minutes, tenor worrying small patches and drawing up miniature acrobatics around chunky electric chatter. Hemingway gradually assembles strokes into damped rhythms and shining beats as Eskelin steps on the gas. Inbetween Spaces is a set of creative duo improvisation with a clear understanding of jazz past and immediate present.

--Ken Waxman JazzWord.com

.... there are times during the Eskelin and Hemingway improvisations that the two suggest askew variants on Lester Young's and Jo Jones' unperturbed swing sense and melody line stretching. With the shaded timbres and double-tonguing expressed by the saxophonist plus the shattering beats and pumping strokes the drummer brings to his playing, however it likely mainstreamers won't be lining up at future Eskelin and/or Hemingway gigs. That's a pity too, because on the evidence from this session, they'll miss magisterial improvising from both men – singly and together.
"Shaken and Spill" for instance, matches Hemingway's time-shifting tom and snare pressure with slippery and sliding tremolo expansion from Eskelin's horn until the latter's cries meander and the former's rhythms produce staccato friction. Concluding with an unruffled display of multiphonic glissandi from the saxophonist, Hemingway finally asserts himself with a coda of bluntly stroked rat-tat-tats.
"Sustain and Footwork" on the other hand is as slow-burning as "Shaken and Spill" resembles an aural flash fire. While the drummer clip clops and drags, parallel improvising from the saxophonist resolves around distanced ghost notes, false register squeals and wispy in-and-out respiration. Continued slurs and pressurized vibrato runs from Eskelin accelerate to peeps and tongue stops making way for an extraordinary display of double timed clanks and crashes from Hemingway that reach their climax as terpsichorean-styled rim shots.
Forums for mature improvisation as well as initiation rituals, with the right partners, duets such as these with every texture in bold relief, can offer masterful listening.

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