April 3, 2008
Bruce Eisenbeil Sextet
Inner Constellation Volume One
By Ken Waxman
Taking up most of the CD with his almost 47½-minute Inner Constellation suite, Manhattan-based guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil structures his composition to take advantage of the cohesive layered textures available from each section of his mini-orchestra. With the strings Jean Cook’s violin, Tom Abbs’s bass, and his own guitars; the horns trumpeter Nate Wooley and saxophonist Aaron Ali Shaikh; plus Nasheet Waits drums, the through-composed work is properly represented, while individual improvisations are showcased as well.
Most impressive among the contrapuntal theme comments are Cook’s angled, spiccato glissandi, with the flying staccato often straddling a walking bass line – when not creating pedal-point refraction by itself or exposing tremolo palpitations, echoed by unison horns. Wooley’s chortling runs are expressed open horn, while his quivering shakes and distinct multiphonics seem forced from his horn’s deepest reaches. Elsewhere, the brassman contributes heraldic tutti flourishes when needed, or in contrast, makes space for Abbs to discontinue his tandem time-keeping with Waits’ bouncing ruffs or wood-block resonation, for the bassist to showcase double-stopped, beneath-the-bridge scrapes and near wood-cracking slides.
Inner Constellation is resolved when the atmospheric polyphony of stop-time cries from the saxophone and whinnying asides from the trumpet uncover a sprightlier and speedier rhythmic variation from the guitarist’s supple finger styling. As the composition dissolves with a defining rasgueado from the composer, the promise of a Volume Two appears very inviting.
In MusicWorks Issue #100