Ellery Eskelin’s Trio New York

This looks wonderful, but I’m not sure it’s the most efficient way to promote a concert:

By Niklaus Troxler, a 2007 promo for the Ellery Eskelin Trio

That’s a 2007 poster by Niklaus Troxler, then the organizer of concerts in Willisau, Switzerland. You’ve seen Willisau namechecked on countless albums; the small town has been a mainspring for European-style improvised music and jazz.

Connect the dots, and you’ll see the poster is advertising a concert by the Ellery Eskelin Trio.

As Eskelin wrote in an October blog post, he’s a frequent visitor to Willisau, and his most recent visit resulted in a recording for his Trio New York, his standards-influenced band featuring Gary Versace on organ. The plan is to parlay that session into a CD on hatOLOGY in the spring.

eskelin-3ny-crop.jpgTrio New York is an interesting proposition, an organ-sax-drums combo that improvises freely but does so in the context of traditional jazz. Tracks on the band’s two CDs are even named after standards. I’m thinking the tunes are actually in there somewhere, but I’m not trying very hard to find them; it’s more enjoyable to just let the music drift by, like a bank of clouds on a lazy day.

The band’s concept is close to Eskelin’s heart, partly because his mother was a professional organist, playing under the name Bobbie Lee. No wonder that Eskelin lets a romantic, nostalgic tone pervade the music, although he’s still quite adventurous within those boundaries, and Versace is willing to wrest some spacey sounds from the organ for the occasional effect.

It was a pleasant surprise to watch this band germinating at a 2010 restaurant show in Times Square — a very unexpected venue for Eskelin — and it’s been good to see that Eskelin has kept the concept rolling.

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