John Escreet - piano, fender rhodes
David Binney - alto/sop. saxophones
Chris Potter - tenor saxophone
Matt Brewer - double bass
Jim Black - drums
Adam Rogers - Guitar (tracks 5 & 7)
Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi, Nina Geiger - Vocals (track 7)
All tracks Composed, Arranged & Produced by John Escreet
Engineer, Mixing & Mastering by Tyler McDiarmid
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
released October 15, 2013
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Sabotage and Celebration is the fifth solo album (and first Whirlwind release) from pianist and composer John Escreet. The album glistens from start to finish with endless imagination and unrelenting vision and is aptly supported by an A-list of the world's preeminent creative musicians who all contribute inspired performances at the peak of their powers. An attempt to pigeonhole the music on the album is futile as Escreet's compositional palette is as wide open as his piano virtuosity— complete without boundaries— and this new recording features such an ambitious production and scope it reaffirms with each listen that musical possibility is infinite.
Sabotage and Celebration was recorded on November 7th 2012, the day after the United States' presidential election which saw Barack Obama win a second term in office over his opponent Mitt Romney. On the night before the recording date (election night itself), Escreet's group performed the music in NYC in preparation for the session (literally as the results were coming in) amidst an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty, which gave way to an atmosphere of celebration as the final result became apparent and was eventually announced. The title of the album is in many ways a literal description of the track that bears its name: in the early stages of the piece there is sonic madness, almost as if the music itself is being 'sabotaged'. This eventually transitions into a highly contrasting second section, which emotes feelings of celebration and even dance. The title also refers to many of the widely reported voter issues (which many described as simply 'voter sabotage') that took place in various parts of the US during the election: overbearing and restrictive voter ID laws, the long lines at polling stations which ultimately prevented many people from casting their vote, as well as supposed malfunctions in many electronic voting machines. Yet despite this the end result signaled a celebration that reached beyond the United States.
The presidential election was not the only real life event that influenced the music on Sabotage and Celebration. Says Escreet, "The music was written at different stages, but a lot of it was written a week before the recording session, which was also during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season). NYC was effectively shut down for an entire week - there was no public transport and much of the city was without power. I was stuck in my apartment and couldn’t really go anywhere all week, so I stayed home, wrote and did nothing else. It just so happened that the music that I wrote during this time ended up being what I consider to be the strongest material."
Escreet's new album covers an incredible amount of musical ground. A string section is prominently featured, the result of his recent re-fascination with orchestral music; listen in as he seamlessly incorporates it into the context of a conventional jazz quintet. There's more: brass, guitars and vocals are also layered into the proceedings in surprising ways, creating music of a larger scale. "A lot of the albums back in the 70s featured a wider sonic palette, using stings, brass and all kinds of different instruments. Those influences, combined with some of the pop music I have been listening to recently helped shape the sound of this album, along with all kinds of other influences. I have also been spending more time in Los Angeles over the past couple of years, where my good friends and musical collaborators Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi (aka KNOWER) are based. It was great to have them contribute vocals to the last track on the album," Escreet explains.
Sabotage and Celebration comes from a prolific individual who has digested an astonishing amount of music in his life (he was in his late twenties at the time of this recording), and along with all the sophistication and wit Escreet composes and performs with a potent visceral energy, striking a perfect balance in the music. Artistic vision of this scope at such an early age signifies the making of a game changer; the prospect for what's next is exciting indeed.
"The band coheres impressively, with excellent performances throughout."
★★★★★ BBC Music Magazine
"There’s emotional width and narrative drive on pianist/composer John Escreet’s tough-centred and disciplined round-up of New York’s current left field. Jerky, angular themes sit on tight rock-driven riffs, optimistic grooves rarely resolve and blasts of free jazz deliver controlled fury.
★★★★ The Financial Times
"Sabotage and Celebration marks a new personal artistic peak."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"Very successfully balances musical symmetries and explosive traumas... He's a big talent."
★★★★ The Guardian
"If you like composers who shun categories and shirk from compromises, Escreet and Sabotage and Celebration are for you."
"Tumblingly emphatic beats and freer, looser, irregular rhythms, this is a fine, seething stew of an album, packed with unexpected felicities."
London Jazz News
"An ambitious album that touches many bases. Escreet blends these different influences with consummate skill and the result is a deeply rewarding album that has garnered considerable critical acclaim."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
"From the off, a disorientating, chattering, fiery and elating masterstroke."
"'Sabotage And Celebration' is one of the year’s most dazzling recordings, something of a composition masterclass and a satisfying balance of science and spirit."
"Strong, characterful writing fully integrated with impassioned improvisation and surrounded by a whole rich wide world of sound... Sabotage And Celebration is hard to beat."
The Jazz Breakfast
"A singular achievement that spotlights John Escreet at his best. This album is definitively the proper way to experience his outsized talent."
"Escreet can play with extraordinary beauty, resplendent with crescendos of sound that belie a classical background... On 'Sabotage and Celebration' he creates moments of magic that are all too rarely found in a great deal of modern jazz and for this he is an artist to be watched closely."
" A very expressive Mingus-like album about real and reactionary events in Escreet’s adopted country, his jazz audacity matched by his focus on the real world around him, in the way of the finest of jazz musicians."
supported by 19 fans who also own “Sabotage And Celebration”
Creative, fresh, continuously surprising - this is the first album I've bought that is not straight-ahead jazz. Nachoff has won me over with brilliant writing, brilliant musicianship, and evocative arrangements. Just when a solo seems to have completed its exploration of a musical statement, for one example, the low sonorities of a beautiful synth line jump in to add gorgeous texture and to take the musical idea into fascinating territory. Bravo! freshkach