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Lisle Ellis -- Marco Eneidi -- Peter Valsamis 

American Roadwork

Wednesday, Jun 1 2005
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The salient power of this debut recording by leading Bay Area improvisers Lisle Ellis (bass), Marco Eneidi (alto sax), and Peter Valsamis (drums) is not its thematic coherence from track to track. Nor is it the intuitive connection between the players, which tends to be a given among veterans of spontaneous composition such as this. It's not even the supernovas the group inevitably sets off, which may surprise longtime fans who know Ellis and Eneidi from their storied pasts with energy-jazz titans Cecil Taylor and Glenn Spearman. No. What's remarkable about American Roadwork is its meditative character, its in-no-way-clichéd ballads and blues, its quiet strength. Screaming saxophones are no longer avant-garde, and Eneidi (a near-legendary screamer) gets this. By channeling the procreative force of the blowout into mesmerizing sustained notes and full-bodied phrases that go where they need to go without ever feeling pushed, he leads this music toward a living, breathing place where its vitality lies in just being.

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Sam Prestianni

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