Michael Eckroth Group – Human Geography (ENG review)

Truth Revolution Recording Collective – Avalable
Michael Eckroth Group - Human Geography

The month of June flew by as quickly as the summer wind, so we still have a few albums that arrived a bit late, which we will talk about this lovely month of July. Michael Eckroth, a pianist and composer passionate about Afro-Cuban music, offers us his new album that bridges his passions and jazz. Eckroth’s impressive career includes collaborations with jazz icons such as John Scofield, Ron McClure, Eliot Zigmund, and the critically acclaimed Orquesta Akokán. Following his 2021 album Plena on Human Geography, Eckroth combines the skills and passion acquired over years of recording, writing, and performing into this seamless blend of Latin American music and modern jazz for which he is known, creating something unique and personalized.

The compositions of the Michael Eckroth Group on this album are particularly complex, keeping the listener alert with especially inventive arrangements and navigating through all these cultures with a form of nonchalant elegance that attempts to hide the depth of the compositions, but true jazz lovers won’t be fooled. Paying intrinsic homage to the cultures of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the vast amalgam that constitutes jazz, Human Geography is an individualized perspective on the overlap of these traditions that highlights an intimate knowledge and love for the genres—but without fully adhering to normative frameworks. Featuring a rotating cast of piano trios with a selection of brass appearances, Human Geography is a masterpiece of collaborative enthusiasm with an emphatic adoration for the cultures and traditions from which it is derived. All the musicians on the album are long-time collaborators of Eckroth, each representing a long history of performances and creations together. Above all, Eckroth values the ability of musicians to adapt anywhere and consider anything. “These musicians are extremely flexible, and above all capable of bringing out more than what is planned by the compositions and arrangements,” says Eckroth. “It’s a group aesthetic that has been cultivated over several years of sporadic playing.”

We find ourselves with an album ready to take on the biggest festivals where audiences with keen critical senses can only applaud. Indeed, this album almost sounds like a “Live” album, undoubtedly thanks to the extraordinary performance of the artists present on this album. More than just a talented pianist, it is clear that Michael Eckroth is above all an extraordinary composer, also capable of creating custom arrangements to highlight the entire group. It remains for us modest listeners to wisely and passionately listen to all the tracks of an album that is particularly successful, obviously inspired by other great composers and pianists such as Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. There is a form of highly intellectual and vibrant musical writing that makes us ponder here and there. We sometimes need to have an understanding beyond what we hear, which will make us realize that Michael Eckroth possesses multiple artistic propositions and aesthetic forms that compel admiration for this album, which we are adding to our “Essentials” series.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, July 4th 2024

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To buy this album

1. Human Geogrpahy 05:31
2. Little B’s Poem 03:49
3. Freedom in Precision 04:45
4. Kachina 04:32
5. New Bomba 06:08
6. In 15 04:25
7. Funk Gets It 04:26
8. Hilton 03:29