E.M.P. Project

Blue Canoe Records, USA

William Ellis, drums; Joseph Patrick Moore, Acoustic, Electric and Fretless bass; Shawn Perkinson. Electric and Acoustic guitar

A very cool guitar/bass/drums trio here, all graduates of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, in an all-originals set which is very high on interplay, solid on tune writing and again very high on open-ended fun attitude. I can't exactly describe it but some of the tunes here don't just have your standard blues underpinnings, there's also a minor bit here and there of country swing.

Figure that out! No, not Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, I mean something more like Jim Hall but just a tad more pronounced. A nice addition, kind of like how late in their performing life The Byrds', Clarence White would infuse their 20-minute jams on "Eight Miles High" with these ironic C&W variations. Well, I'm not making a lot of sense here, so why don't I move on. The first two melodies on E.M.P. are not terribly original, guitar whiz Shawn Perkinson bounces "Night" off a very common flamenco bass figure, and the opening "Warrior," by bass player Joe Moore, has a chord change I must have heard on half a dozen Blue Note albums from the 1950s. But the playing is intricate and assured; "Elise," a slow burner for Perkinsonís acoustic guitar, is heartbreaking; and two of drummer William Ellis' three compositions, "Homefront" and "Safe Journey," have a tart sort of Wes Montgomery feel that the "new kids" don't often access. Perkinson's fine playing has a twangy envelope and a sort of backwashing chime effect when he's not soloing, as you'll hear on the latter Ellis tune. Moore's "What?" has some quick-stepping, almost Pat Martino-like melodic heft with a backwards-sounding free bit in the middle; Ellis spaces out as well here and Moore remains on the ground to tether the other two. Very nice. And the Modern Jazz Quartet get a nod in the calmly meditative but complex "Quickly & Quietly." You will definitely not get all of what's here on the first listen, but if you get this you won't be putting it away after one run-through anyway.

by Ken Egbert

More New Sounds

Back to Contents Page
Jazz Now Interactive

Copyright Jazz Now, October 2003 issue, all rights reserved