John Escreet ‘Sabotage and Celebration’ (Whirlwind) 4/5

John_EscreetUK born, but New York resident since 2006, pianist and composer John Escreet has quickly established a reputation for music on the edges and this latest set, following on from the 2011 album ‘The age we live in’ will not disappoint. What is impressive here is the post-bop approach that incorporates big band orchestrations alongside strings, and in the recording sound this has something of a 1970s retro feel to it. The quintet includes saxophonists Chris Potter and David Binney, the latter of whom makes a lengthier appearance on the debut album by Mick Coady’s Synergy, another Jellymould release. The album is characterised by a combination of off-beat rhythms and free improvisational influences as on the staccato rhythm of the trio-led ‘The Decapitator’ which is on the surface a quiet reflective piece, yet still unsettling underneath, or on the explosion of brass that predominates on the title track. Elsewhere there is lyricism on ‘Laura Angela’ and even a neo-bop theme undercurrent on ‘He who dares’ with a fine tenor solo by Potter. The album title is actually a reference to both the US Presidential triumph of Barack Obama and hurricane Sandy. Tim Stenhouse