E.J. Strickland | In This Day

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In This Day

by E.J. Strickland

This debut recording features a brand-new, stellar quintet plus several guests exploring intriguing original compositions derived from contemporary jazz influenced by poetry, and world music.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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1. Abandoned Discovery
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6:47 album only
2. Asante
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7:38 album only
3. Eternal (intro)
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2:28 album only
4. Eternal
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7:56 album only
5. Pedrito's Prelude
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1:57 album only
6. New Beginning's
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7:15 album only
7. In Faith
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2:23 album only
8. In This Day
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8:21 album only
9. Angular Realms
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6:14 album only
10. Find Myself
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5:57 album only
11. Wrong Turn
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5:17 album only
12. Illusions
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2:58 album only
13. Robin (intro)
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1:22 album only
14. Robin Fly Away
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6:19 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Drummer E.J. Strickland is currently a member of the long-lived quartet of Ravi Coltrane (along with Luis Perdomo & Drew Gress), and his brother Marcus Strickland’s celebrated electric/acoustic quartets & trio. He also leads his own bands, The E.J. Strickland Quintet & The E.J. Strickland Project. His playing has been described as emitting “fields of cumulative energy, clouds of feather-touch and heavy-handed syncopations, latent with power like an oncoming storm” (Thomas Conrad, Downbeat Magazine). Amongst his discography of over 25 album titles with various recording artists, his long-anticipated debut album “In This Day” (Strick Muzik) will soon be released in 2009.

Enoch Jamal Strickland was born in Gainesville and raised in Miami, Florida. His father, a former percussionist for the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra and a jazz enthusiast, immersed E.J. and his twin bother Marcus with music from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, The Jazz Crusaders, Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Hendricks. Unsurprisingly, he chose to study music when he turned 11, and decided to pursue a career as a professional musician a year later.

He attended The New World School of the Arts (Miami) for high school, studying classical music as well as jazz. He found great influences in drummers like Elvin Jones, “Philly” Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Brian Blade, and many, many others. After meeting Wynton Marsalis, Jon Faddis, and Bobby Watson at Miami clinics, the Strickland brothers decided to go to New York City to further pursue their studies and goals.

In 1997, E.J. attended The New School for Social Research, where he studied piano, polished his skills as a composer, and studied with some of the world’s greatest drummers: Joe Chambers, Michael Carvin, Carl Allen, Ralph Peterson, Lewis Nash, and Jimmy Cobb. He started to develop a sound when The Marcus Strickland Quartet was formed, adding classmates Robert Glasper and Brandon Owens. Before earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jazz Performance, he had already performed with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Nneenna Freelon, Abbey Lincoln, Christian McBride, Herbie Hancock, Wessell Anderson, and Dianne Reeves.

E.J. is also currently touring & performing with Cassandra Wilson, George Colligan quartet & trio, and the David Gilmore trio.

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Press Release-

On his debut release as a leader In This Day (available May 19 on StrickMuzik), drummer & composer E.J. Strickland introduces his quintet & his music in a variety of textures, moods, & contexts. Over the years, he’s been noted as a key sideman for saxophonists Ravi Coltrane & Marcus Strickland, a five-year stint with guitarist Russell Malone, and a freelancer with many other artists such as George Colligan, Lizz Wright, Freddie Hubbard & The New Jazz Composer’s Octet, and Cassandra Wilson. Now, with an engaging cast of players, the culmination of his experiences is documented on his debut CD. In This Day features Enoch Jamal Strickland (drums, compositions), Jaleel Shaw (alto sax), Marcus Strickland (tenor & soprano saxophones), Luis Perdomo (piano & Wurlitzer), Hans Glawischnig (acoustic & electric basses), with special guests David Gilmore (acoustic & electric guitars on tracks 9, 13), Pedro Martinez (congas & djembe on tracks 2, 5, 6, 12), Yosvany Terry (tenor sax, chekere, & bell on track 6), Charenee Wade (vocals on track 3), Cheray O'Neal-Mamazun (spoken word on tracks 3, 7), Tia Fuller (flute), Brandee Younger (harp).

“Abandoned Discovery”, “Eternal”, & “Wrong Turn” are tunes that feature his core band: Jaleel Shaw, Marcus Strickland, Luis Perdomo, & Hans Glawischnig. Whether in unison or interweaving counter-melodies with each other, Jaleel & Marcus’ horns sing beautifully over the very cohesive rhythmic unit of E.J., Luis, & Hans. While congero Pedro Martinez provides an Afro-Cuban undercurrent in selections like “Asante” & “New Beginnings” (with Yosvany on tenor & percussion), the band never loses its heightened sense of interactive flow. A special addition to this album is that of two voices: poet Cheray O’Neal (aka Mamazun) on interludes “Eternal (intro)” & “In Faith (In This Day)”, and vocalist Charenee Wade also on “Eternal (intro)”.

The djembe on the album cover is a tribute to the “power of the woman” they certainly exude. The band really engages the listener on quartet and trio ballads like “In This Day” with Marcus’ soprano-played stanzas, and “Find Myself” with Jaleel’s soft alto-musings. Guitarist David Gilmore steps in with his electric on the fusion-ish “Angular Realms”, and (with his acoustic) is later joined by harpist Brandee Younger & bassist Hans Glawischnig on “Robin (intro)”. While E.J. doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight with his band, like the trio of Tia Fuller on flute with Hans & Pedro, he does have two drum features, one floating over a vamp on “New Beginnings” & another fiery solo on “Angular Realms”. Throughout the entire album he displays a distinct ability to lead his band wonderfully through his mastery of the drums & cymbals while his compositions provide an perfectly intriguing atmosphere for all of the musicians’ improvisations.

While most of the music on “In This Day” proves to be somewhat challenging, it doesn’t seem to prevent E.J. & his band from performing with much emotional depth. The meaning of the title track poem that Cheray recites on “In Faith (In This Day)” flows through all of the music, providing the foundation on which this entire album was built upon.”


Reviews


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Glenn Astarita

Jazz Review
It’s not your prototypical drummer-led solo outing. As a venerable jazz-based session ace, E.J. Strickland has graced recordings by saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and twin brother, saxophonist Marcus Strickland amid a five-year engagement with guitarist Russell Malone. Yet here, the drummer asserts a broad musicality, featuring his quintet and complemented by Cheray O’Neals spoken word and Chareree Wade’s vocals on select tracks.

Strickland glides, floats and sizzles during these largely, up-tempo progressive jazz pieces that are engineered upon memorable themes. With special guests, percussionist Pedro Martinez and saxophonist/percussionist Yosvany Terry among others, the band simply breezes through peppery Latin motifs, for example. Moreover, Marcus Strickland’s fluidly stinging solos offer a razors-sharp edge within various passages, as the leader often steps up, then throttles back the various movements with polyrhythmic breaks and crisply executed dynamics.

Throughout these fourteen compositions, E.J. paints an optimistic slant, augmented by pianist Luis Perdomo and the articulate undercurrents set down by bassist Hans Glawischnig. On “Angular Realms,” E.J. sparks remembrances of sax heroes Steve Coleman and Greg Osby’s M-Base sound, exercised on snappy grooves via a buoyant meshing of complex unison lines. And in other spots, they weave intricate storylines into concise and airy bop mechanisms. Overall, the leader’s first solo effort combines tasteful chops, alluring comps, and dazzling craftsmanship with an air of intrigue: it’s a program that beckons repeated listens.

Pico

Something Else Reviews
Last week, another Strickland made his debut.

Enoch Jamal Strickland, better known as "E.J." Strickland, has made his name as a drummer for notables that include Freddie Hubbard, Lizz Wright and Cassandra Wilson, as well as serving in Russell Malone's band for five years. He's also played for his twin brother, Marcus Strickland, who has acquitted himself well on Dave Douglas' recent Keystone albums. Marcus got a eight year head start on his brother, making records under his name since 2001, and now it's E.J.'s turn.

His approach to the drum kit reflects a mature, sophisticated understanding of the role of the drums to music in general and jazz in particular. There isn't isn't all this showboating you might hear from some drummer's records, but his presence is clearly felt. Strickland is exceptional at creating an envelope of cymbals that caresses a song, not suffocates it. He's also got Elvin Jones' sublimely subtle polyrhythms absolutely nailed.

As a composer, E.J. gives distinct character to each song. liberally mixing in everything from modern jazz and post-bop to fusion and even some R&B overtones, all in differing degrees for each song. So, even though "Abandoned Discovery" makes use of Luis Perdomo's electric piano, much like Miles Davis' Filles De Kilimanjaro, it remains primarily in the advanced bop realm. Hans Glawischnig combines with Strickland to fashion a rumbling, unstoppable rhythm that the horn line of Marcus and altoist Jaleel Shaw easily glide over.

Extra percussion is added courtesy of Pedro Martinez for "Asante (For The Tribes Of Ghana)," where Perdomo's piano adds a dulcet coat over a busy, African syncopation. That's before Shaw and Marcus Strickland engage in some lively jousting. The African beasts also pervade in "New Beginnings," where the pretty main melody runs in half the time of the beat.

And then there's the majestic, Coltranian prance "Eternal", preceded by spoken poetry by Charenee Wade, and graced with some impassioned solos by Jaleel and Marcus. E.J.'s kit work on this tune serves as a worthy tribute to the great Elvin. "In This Day" likewise begins with a poetic recital, this time by Cheray "Mama Zun" O'Neal. The song itself features Marcus' composed soprano sax and a penetrating bass solo by Glawischnig. Perdomo's piano improvisations are virtually perfect on this track.

Marcus' soprano sax appears again in the closing track "Robin Fly Away," an intricately constructed song, and is burnished by Perdomo's cozy Rhodes piano. "Angular Realms" exhibits Strickland's very advanced technique on both writing and performing fusion. It's a very shifty melody that moves from chord to chord by taking sharp corners. Guest guitarist David Gilmore tracks along the tricky lines with Shaw and later gives a vibrant solo that calls to mind Fareed Haque.

E.J. has given his talented band plenty of room to strut their stuff, and most of the time it feels like a group effort than a drummer's record. But there are a few times where the leader steps out front: the brief, percussion-only "Pedrito's Prelude" and some well-placed and fiery solos on "New Beginnings" and "Angular Realms."

With the issuance of In This Day, it's more than fair to say that E.J. set out to put his best foot forward. It's not from the foot of not a guy who bangs around on a kit, but of someone who composes songs of depth and meaning from behind one. Ravi Coltrane (son of you-know-who) provided the production, of which is hard to find any fault. Same goes for everything else about this record.

In This Day is the third release by the three-year-old jazz label Strick Muzik.

Mark F. Turner

All About Jazz
For those familiar with E.J. Strickland, the anticipated In This Day is well worth the wait. A striking young drummer/composer, he is well-known for his brilliant work as a member of Ravi Coltrane's premier quartet and with other artists, including his twin brother, saxophonist Marcus Strickland. With agile omni-directional traps and emotive playing in the spirit of patriarchs such as Elvin Jones and current firebrands like Eric Harland, Strickland shows his mettle as a leader and gives life to his musical visions on this debut.

Between recordings and touring with other bands including Cassandra Wilson, and George Colligan, Strickland found time to headline his own groups in New York City. Fruitful gigs ripe with inventive ideas gave birth to this release, which showcases a first-call quintet of new heavies—brother Marcus (tenor sax), Jaleel Shaw (alto sax), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Luis Perdomo (piano), along with many special guests.

From start to finish, Strickland's well-conceived ideas blossom: hard-bopping swing in "Abandoned Discovery"; the heart-pulse of the motherland in "Asante," reminiscent of Randy Weston's African Rhythms; meditative spoken word by Cheray O'Neal ("Eternal" and "In Faith"); and Afro-Cuban influences and contemporary rhythms ("Angular Realms") that are prismatic beams of the drummer's depth and influences.

Strickland is not just a superior player but also a careful listener and composer, allowing not only his quintet but others to shine, such as Pedro Martinez on his infectious djembe, which flows in harmony with Tia Fuller's beautiful flute and Glawischnig's affective bass on the gorgeous "Illusions." It segues perfectly into "Robin," where harpist Brandee Younger and guitarist David Gilmore share a poignant introduction.

Whether it is cyclonic sessions, lush ballads, or spiritual musings, the set has a unique personality that is wide-ranging, logical, and at times brilliant. A very noteworthy debut from the equally talented, other Strickland brother, E.J.

Pico

Something Else Reviews
Last week, another Strickland made his debut.

Enoch Jamal Strickland, better known as "E.J." Strickland, has made his name as a drummer for notables that include Freddie Hubbard, Lizz Wright and Cassandra Wilson, as well as serving in Russell Malone's band for five years. He's also played for his twin brother, Marcus Strickland, who has acquitted himself well on Dave Douglas' recent Keystone albums. Marcus got a eight year head start on his brother, making records under his name since 2001, and now it's E.J.'s turn.

His approach to the drum kit reflects a mature, sophisticated understanding of the role of the drums to music in general and jazz in particular. There isn't isn't all this showboating you might hear from some drummer's records, but his presence is clearly felt. Strickland is exceptional at creating an envelope of cymbals that caresses a song, not suffocates it. He's also got Elvin Jones' sublimely subtle polyrhythms absolutely nailed.

As a composer, E.J. gives distinct character to each song. liberally mixing in everything from modern jazz and post-bop to fusion and even some R&B overtones, all in differing degrees for each song. So, even though "Abandoned Discovery" makes use of Luis Perdomo's electric piano, much like Miles Davis' Filles De Kilimanjaro, it remains primarily in the advanced bop realm. Hans Glawischnig combines with Strickland to fashion a rumbling, unstoppable rhythm that the horn line of Marcus and altoist Jaleel Shaw easily glide over.

Extra percussion is added courtesy of Pedro Martinez for "Asante (For The Tribes Of Ghana)," where Perdomo's piano adds a dulcet coat over a busy, African syncopation. That's before Shaw and Marcus Strickland engage in some lively jousting. The African beasts also pervade in "New Beginnings," where the pretty main melody runs in half the time of the beat.

And then there's the majestic, Coltranian prance "Eternal", preceded by spoken poetry by Cheray "Mama Zun" O'Neal, and graced with some impassioned solos by Jaleel and Marcus. E.J.'s kit work on this tune serves as a worthy tribute to the great Elvin. "In This Day" likewise begins with a poetic recital by Mama Zun. The song itself features Marcus' composed soprano sax and a penetrating bass solo by Glawischnig. Perdomo's piano improvisations are virtually perfect on this track.

Marcus' soprano sax appears again in the closing track "Robin Fly Away," an intricately constructed song, and is burnished by Perdomo's cozy Rhodes piano. "Angular Realms" exhibits Strickland's very advanced technique on both writing and performing fusion. It's a very shifty melody that moves from chord to chord by taking sharp corners. Guest guitarist David Gilmore tracks along the tricky lines with Shaw and later gives a vibrant solo that calls to mind Fareed Haque.

E.J. has given his talented band plenty of room to strut their stuff, and most of the time it feels like a group effort than a drummer's record. But there are a few times where the leader steps out front: the brief, percussion-only "Pedrito's Prelude" and some well-placed and fiery solos on "New Beginnings" and "Angular Realms."

With the issuance of In This Day, it's more than fair to say that E.J. set out to put his best foot forward. It's not from the foot of not a guy who bangs around on a kit, but of someone who composes songs of depth and meaning from behind one. Ravi Coltrane (son of you-know-who) provided the production, of which is hard to find any fault. Same goes for everything else about this record.

Downbeat Magazine Review

Ken Micallef
An exceptional debut recording from drummer E.J. Strickland, In This Day showcases a resourceful, inventive and extremely cohesive young quintet. The CD features saxophonists Marcus Strickland and Jaleel Shaw, who, performing like two heads of the same overachieving organism, help drive E.J.’s dark-hearted material with serpentine solos and brooding power.

A rising sideman who’s worked with Russell Malone, Freddie Hubbard and The New Jazz Composer’s Octet, among others, Strickland’s compositional skills are as impressive as his percolating drumming, which are as impressive as his percolating drumming, which almost takes a secondary role. When his drumming is highlighted, as in the sparse solos of “New Beginnings” and “Angular Realms”, Strickland speaks with his own voice, conjured in the image of Tony Williams, Airto Moriera, Alphonse Mouzon and Horatio “El Negro” Hernandez. Not purely a straightahead drummer, Strickland distills a variety of styles to propel equally diverse compositional influences.

The Latin-esque fusion of “Angular Realms” is explosively improvisational, with blistering solos from Marcus Strickland and Wurlitzer whiz Luis Perdomo. “New Beginnings” uses a throbbing, conga-driven mambo groove over which the saxophonists play a circular, tightly defined melody that resembles cars flowing in and out of traffic. Far from a simple collection of tracks, In This Day is a unified and thoughtful work, the songs’ elegant trajectory creating a logical thematic progression, from heated straightahead opener “Abandoned Discovery” through simmering Latin and ballad moments to several spoken-word pieces that add a poetic touch.