Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Let It Come

Let It Come to You
By Taylor Eigsti
Concord Jazz

One of jazz’s post-Marsalis prodigies, Taylor Eigsti, now twenty-three, first recorded as a leader as a youthful sixteen year-old, which is plenty annoying to contemplate. Eigsti seems to have avoided the kind of jealousy and criticism that goes with the prodigy territory (particularly for the so-called “Young Lions”), garnering strong reviews and Grammy nominations for past CDs. With the release of Let It Come to You, Eigsti deserves credit again, for a strong, well thought-out mix of originals and standards.

Eigsti does have an interesting way with standards. At first he seems to attack the opener, Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” elliptically, giving the well-worn melody an almost minimalist treatment, before stepping on the gas at the halfway mark. The old chestnut “Fever” gets a similar treatment, before becoming a vehicle for Eigsti’s fleet chops.

His less obvious choices give the session a nice dimension too, like the Michael Brecker tribute, Pat Metheny’s “Timeline,” which Brecker recorded with the guitarist on his album Time is of the Essence. Here special guest Joshua Redman steps into the tenor role for some hot, soulful blowing. Another unusual choice is “Not Ready Yet” by the pop-quirk band the Eels. Eigsti’s arrangement is sensitive, giving some solo space to bassist Reuben Rogers.

The originals are all sequenced at the end of Let It, but they account for some of the strongest music of the session. The title track is an elegant ballad, which is nice, if not exceptionally memorable. However, though probably misnamed (one hopes), the three-part "Fallback Plan Suite," is a rousing musical statement, with strong melodic hooks and some great ensemble playing from flutist Evan Francis, and tenors Dayna Stephens and Ben Wendel. “Part One: Less Free Will” starts in a graceful hard-bop vein, segueing into more reflective passages, then rising and cresting again. “Part Two: Not Lost Yet” has more of a pop sensibility, with a prominent back beat and Eigsti’s Rhodes more discernable in the mix. It concludes with “Part Three: Brick Steps” which is much more insistent in tone, but boasts some sparkling ensemble horn passages and tenor solo from Wendel.

Let It is quite a satisfying musical statement from Eigsti as musician and composer. He should not have to worry about fallback plans. What he is doing now seems to be working out for him just fine.