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EJazzzNews, John Gilbert
The personnel includes Billy Kerr (alto, flute), Larry Williams (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jeff Jarvis (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andrew Lippman (trombone), Ian Robbins (guitar), Mark Balling (keyboards), Adam Cohen (bass), Angel Figueroa (percussion) and Steve Barns (drums) The powerful tenor saxophone of Bruce Eskovitz commands this ten man band and leaves nothing left unsaid in this musical endeavor."Detour Ahead" Herb Ellis' classic is heir to Bruce Eskovitz's steamy tenor solo, a refreshing change from the usual fare heard today. This is a remarkable soliloquy by the leader. I could say it gets no better..So I will. The arrangement and section work is astounding.
"Just In The "Newk" Of Time"..Hand clapping and foot stomping time as this band jumps on this tune like it was something good to eat. Andrew Lippman's trombone solo is fat and sassy. Eskovitz comes on like he means it and that tenor is making some bold statements with a no nonsense message. This track does not look back...It burns and then some. "One Last Time" is Gospel time with Eskovitz's patented tenor as hot as a scalded dog and Jeff Jarvis leaving nothing unsaid on the trumpet. This tune captures the ideation and pure magic of Bruce Eskovitz and his soulful, passionate solo. The tenor saxophone is played many ways and in many styles these days but Bruce Eskovitz is of the school that adheres to the basic tenets of jazz and that is: Play it like you mean it and never sacrifice beauty for exaggerated affectation. In a word, this recording consists of superb musicians selected by a leader who knows the value of musicianship and leads by example.
5 STARS

BEJO
 

Chris Spector, Midwest Record Review
BRUCE ESKOVITZ JAZZORCHESTRA/Invitation:  One thing we’ve learned from following Denny Zeitlin’s career is that you don’t put a jazzbo down for having a day job as a doctor.  Eskovitz is certainly a swinging doctor as he leads his big band through a tasty mix of west cost cool and driving grooves that melds into a heady stew whether a simmering samba or something that isn’t bashful about letting the heat move from simmer to full boil.  A solidly swinging big band date that delivers the goods, especially for ears starved for this sound served up hot.


bruceeskovitz.com > reviews

All About Jazz, Jim Souza
The Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra returns with its second CD, Invitation, playing music that includes bop, salsa and samba. Much of it sits well within the confines of the orchestra.

Eskovitz wrote all of the compositions except two, which stand out not only for their arrangements, but for the way the soloists keep the groove alive. The first of these is Herb Ellis' “Detour Ahead.” Eskovitz’s tenor saxophone dips into the melody with becoming warmth, while the horns form a velvet backdrop. He turns his phrases around just enough for impact. The other cover is “Red Clay.” The whole is grasped compactly by the soloists, beginning with Andrew Lippman on the trombone. Jeff Jarvis is incisive on the trumpet and Ian Robbins shows a nice flow of ideas on the guitar. Eskovitz cuts a deeper swath on the tenor with burly, flying notes before Adam Cohen casts a lighter shadow on the electric bass by staying in a compact groove. The appeal is enhanced by the luminous lines of the orchestra.

”One Last Time” is a slow blues that captures a coiled intensity thanks to Eskovitz and Larry Williams on the trumpet. Both delve into the center and open a heartfelt exposition of the theme.

”Latin Fever” is another Eskovitz composition that lays it on the line and comes up trumps. The tune sparkles and is pushed on by Jarvis and Williams, whose inventive changes are pushed on by their animated conversation. The rhythm of the salsa has to be of the moment; Angel Figueroa lets it bloom vividly on percussion.

Eskovitz and his orchestra turn it on and entertain with Invitation.


Tr
ack Listing: Breakthrough; Damien’s Dance; Invitation; Latin Fever; Detour Ahead; Just in the “Newk” of Time; Dialogue; A Walk in the Park; Red Clay; One Last Time.

Personnel: Bruce Eskovitz: tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute; Billy Kerr: alto saxophone, flute; Larry Williams: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeff Jarvis: trumpet, flugelhorn; Andrew Lippman: trombone; Ian Robbins: guitar; Mark Balling: keyboards; Adam Cohen: bass; Angel Figueroa: percussion; Steve Barnes: drums.

IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION http://zzaj.freehostia.com/index.htm

Bruce Eskovitz - INVITATION: Thought this is Eskovitz' second CD, it's our first listen.  He's got a cast of players far too expansive to list here, especially since this is very much a "big band" type of affair - but that doesn't detract from the listening in the least.  7 of the 10 pieces are originals, but even other folks tunes (like Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay") are full-bodied & inspiring! Bruce plays tenor & soprano sax, as well as alto flute, & arranges all the tracks in his own unique fashion.  There were several tracks that really had me moving, but my favorite was "Damien's Dance", 2 - if you don't dance, you WILL when you hear this... even if it's just your soul hopping - a very significant composition that makes the album worth the purchase.  Eskovitz has a very "forthright" playing style that will pull you right in to the musical web he weaves, & fill your heart with joy!  If you love high-spirited & well-played jazz, this is your ticket to nirvana (should be available now, it was released on 1/29/2008).  I give it an immediate
MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!    Rotcod Zzaj 

 

With the exception of “Poor Butterfly” and “Count Your Blessings,” two selections associated with Rollins, all nine numbers are the great tenor's compositions.  Eskovitz is perfectly assisted by pianist Bill Mays, vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Larance Marable on such songs as “No Moe,” “Airegin,” ”Valse Hot,” “Strode Rode,” and “Pent-Up House.” As intense as some of the jam session-style performances are, it is the meeting with guest Ernie Watts on “Tenor Madness” that is most passionate. The six minute blowout features Watts challenging (but not overwhelming) Eskovitz.

Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

NewkII
   

 

 

 
ALL MUSIC GUIDE TO JAZZ

   Bruce Eskovitz

b. CA Tenor Saxophone / Hard Bop After a couple of crossover records, Bruce Eskovitz really stretched out on his Koch Jazz release (One for Newk) as he paid tribute to Sonny Rollins. One selection ("Tenor Madness") features him holding his own with the great Ernie Watts. Eskovitz started playing tenor when he was 11 and at age 20 was composing music for the Merv Griffin television show. He has mostly worked as a studio musician and a jazz educator but appears regularly in Los Angeles area clubs. -Scott Yanow
Bruce Eskovitz / May 6, 1992/ Cexton ***

   

One for Newk / Nov. 18, 1993-Nov. 19, 1993 / Koch *****
This is a record that all lovers of bebop have to get. Tenor saxophonist Bruce Eskovitz has a fat tone and a hard-driving style that is most reminiscent of Don Menza and Lew Tabackin, making him the perfect person to record a tribute to Sonny Rollins. If he sounded exactly like Newk this set would not be all that effective since there is no reason to hear an imitation when the original is also quite prominent on records. But by paying homage to Rollins without directly copying him, Eskovitz has put together a very enjoyable set. With the exception of "Poor Butterfly" and "Count Your Blessings," all ten numbers are Rollins compositions. Eskovitz is greatly assisted by pianist Bill Mays, vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Larance Marable on such numbers as "No Moe," "Airegin," "Valse Hot," "Strode Rode" and "Pent-Up House." As intense as some of the jam session-style performances are, it is the final number that is the most passionate, for "Tenor Madness" is a ten-minute blowout with guest Ernie Watts challenging (but not overwhelming) Eskovitz. Highly recommended. -Scott Yanow

 

     L.A. JAZZ SCENE, August 1995
Myrna Daniels

Koch International planned a full evening of entertainment at Catalina's to introduce the new artist on their roster-Bruce Eskovitz.

BRUCE ESKOVITZ at Catalina's

Saxophonist Bruce Eskovitz played tunes from his debut CD on the Koch Jazz label, One For Newk. Eskovitz has been inspired by Sonny Rollins and that was the basis for the CD. Using the same trio of Mays, Henry and LaBarbera, Eskovitz began with "Movin' Out," tearing through the tune with a tough stance that was exhilarating. "Pent Up House" provided time for a strong Mays solo. He's really quite marvelous. Eskovitz played his tenor sax with a relaxed intensity all evening. His improvising was strong and gutsy, yet loose. Henry followed with a free-form solo. LaBarbera's steady hands kept everything in sync. The room was packed and the audience whooped with glee at the steaming music coming off the bandstand.

"No Moe" was a blues-inflected tune based on the changes of "I've Got Rhythm." Oddly, I think Mays could have punched in a blues mode more forcefully. His playing seemed too light and airy for the piece. Eskovitz handled his solo in an exploratory manner, taking it easy at first, getting strong and more inventive as he continued. What sounds different to me is that Eskovitz has internalized the premise that less is more. He didn't overplay but let the music move at a natural pace. His improvising had a consistency and natural progression to it, picking up steam as he moved along. The audience loved it.

"Poor Butterfly" was a duo for Mays and Eskovitz. Eskovitz coaxed sultry, husky tones from his sax. His slurred lines were very emotional, very apt. "St. Thomas" was an immediate crowd pleaser. Does this tune ever fail to deliver? Mays played the piano with wit and took his time to develop some good ideas. Eskovitz jumped back in with a powerful burst then LaBarbera took over for his first real workout of the evening.

"Strode Rode" was clean bop, real good stuff! Eskovitz stated the theme and Mays took over for some exploring of his own. Eskovitz got into some heavy-duty improvising. It was all just swell! Mays intro'd "Count Your Blessings" with some pretty playing as Eskovitz took it slow and sweet, his tone breathy and deliberate. Again, the audience responded warmly. "Now's the Time" was a good closing tune. The crowd enjoyed the more energized bop material. Mays was a dynamo, all over the keyboard. LaBarbera's drumming got very lively for this last tune. Eskovitz, likewise, was like a man on fire for the last closing bars.

What a terrific evening it was. It was good to see Bruce Eskovitz dig in and play with such great emotion and freedom. Catch him around town soon.


 

   
  Going on Instinct  FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 1995
   
  • Bruce Eskovitz follows his heart to straight-ahead jazz and finds it 'intriguing and fulfilling.'

  • by ZAN STEWART

    Glendale -- "Follow your bliss." That's the expression coined by mythologist-scholar Joseph Campbell, and it could be interpreted as meaning that the source of human happiness is closely associated with discovering what you really want to do in life, and then doing it.
      For years, from about 1984 to 1991, Bruce Eskovitz didn't do either.
      The tenor saxophonist, who plays Saturday with a quartet at Jax, had long been an ardent lover of straight-ahead jazz. But from the mid '80s to the early '90s, he became a practitioner of the pop side of jazz, where rock rhythms and easily digestible melodies serve as platforms for improvisation.
      Eskovitz says now that he opted for the style because he was "looking for a sense of popularity." But even with a couple of albums that received fairly solid airplay, he worked only intermittently.
      "I certainly wasn't becoming an overnight sensation doing the stuff," he says now. "And it seemed that saxophonists like Eric Marienthal and Brandon Fields could do that so much better than I could. I was feeling very unsatisfied."

      No wonder. Eskovitz had been passionate about the mainstream jazz style espoused by such greats as Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt and John Coltrane since he was a teen-ager growing up in Los Angeles in the late '60s and early '70s. But he had put that art aspect of jazz aside in an effort to find commercial success and regonition. After awhile, the fact that he wasn't playing straight-ahead jazz left him confused.
      "I began wondering why I wasn't playing that way," he says, and sees now that he had to go through the jazz/fusion phase as a period of growth -- to see what he didn't want to do.
      Then, three years ago, he changed. "I just came to a life decision to do what I wanted, which is to play straight-ahead jazz with a big sound on tunes with chord changes," Eskovitz says.
      The payoff was immediate. "This music is a lot more of an honest vehicle of expression for me," he explains. "There's something about playing this music that's very fulfilling and intriguing."

      Eskovitz acknowledges that he got a big boost in improving his performance in the mainstream jazz arena by studying with Charlie Shoemake, the noted vibist who now lives in Cambria but who for years operated an improvisation studio out of his home in Sherman Oaks.

      "Charlie showed me a lot of the nuts and bolts of this music," the sax man says. "I feel that there's real depth to my understanding of music, and the be-bop style in particular, that I got from him."
      Aware of the potential for exceedingly fast playing that the saxophone possesses, Eskovitz tries not to play as if he is getting paid by the note. "All saxophonists have the tendency to be button pushers to a certain extent, but really the virtuosity is in the choice, not the velocity," he says. "I'm trying to find a way to hit people on an emotional level and still be satisfied by what I do."
      Walter Moore, co-owner of Roland & Associates, the public relations firm that books performances at Jax, feels that Eskovitz is indeed a man who is judicious in what he plays. "He offers a lot of melodic restraint," says Moore. "He's not overbearing. I think he's one of the best saxophone players we've come across in years."
      At Jax, Eskovitz will be accompanied by a first-rate rhythm section of Stuart Elster (piano), Greg Eicher (bass) and Jack LeCompte (drums). The leader says the program will spotlight classic pop standards and well-known jazz tunes.
      Eskovitz will make a mojor step toward greater recognition in his chosen field when his album, "One for Newk," is released on Koch International Records in March.
      The album, made in Los Angeles in late 1993, finds the sax man playing many of the best known tunes by Sonny Rollins.
      "I was nervous about the recording," Eskovitz admits, "but I came in prepared. I feel good about it now."

     

     
    USC Showcases Area Stalwarts

    Jazz Review
    By DON HECKMAN, SPECIAL TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
    SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2000
        USC's seventh annual jazz festival -this year titled "IA Jazz 2000"- is a collegiate sort of event. Scheduled over a five-day period, it includes free, as well as low-cost, events with programming that is a mixture of national artists, local players and USC faculty.
      Perhaps predictably, this means that the free shows, which have taken place at noon in Alumni Park, have been well-attended programs featuring the USC Studio Jazz Ensemble, the USC Superaxe Studio Guitar Ensemble and the USC Elf Ensemble with guest artists Bob Florence, Scott Henderson and Bennie Maupin. On Wednesday night, the first performance by a nationally prominent artist-saxophonist Michael Brecker-drew a run house to Bovard Auditorium.
      Local musicians, however, have not proven to be such a major draw, And that's unfortunate, since --if there has been any sort of subtext to the festival and, especially, to the performances Thursday night by the Bruce Eskovitz Trio and the Phil Norman Tentet-- it is that Southland players can match their jazz skills against anyone...
      Eskovitz, who directs the USC Concert Jazz Ensemble, is a veteran tenor saxophonist whose credits reach from his own various groups to studio work with everyone from Natalie Cole to Joe Williams. His Thursday night performance was improvising in its most fundamental form -- his own saxophone, Trey Henry's bass and Ndugu Chancler's drums. The choice of material-"My Romance." "St. Thomas," etc.-- reflected his dedication to Sonny Rollins, and Eskovitz's soloing was filled with plenty of Rollinsesque qualities. But he also revealed a willingness to reach into the avantgarde with choruses--especially on "What Is This Thing Called Love?" -that broke out into the sort of rapid note flashes, multiphonics and high harmonics more characteristic of John Coltrane.

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