PRICE: $16.50
Escondido Sessions


There's something brewing in Southern California -- besides the world's finest pale ale and crystal-clear surf rolling up the shore along Interstate 5. There's been an outpouring of mind-blowing prog-, psych- and free-rock in impeccable form from San Diego County, seamlessly merging jazz tendencies and extraordinary jam-abilities with crushing heaviness, electronics, and a general out-there-ness. Bands such as Psicomagia, Earthless, and Joy have earned SoCal its own unique spot on the worldwide map of psychedelia. At the heart of all this is one young Escondido native, Brian Ellis. A guitar virtuoso in Astra, saxophonist in Psicomagia, and keys- and synth-wiz as well, he's long been cutting his teeth as a grade-A session player in such heavyweight funk outfits as Egyptian Lover, in addition to working as a studio owner and an esteemed recording engineer. It was only a matter of time before Ellis got his own group of local offbeat heroes in the same room to crank out a spectacular piece of prismatic, electric free-form jazz. And here it is. Along with members from Radio Moscow, Corima, and Psicomagia, Ellis has cooked up two vinyl sides of seriously vital jazz-rock, taking up where Miles Davis, Tony Williams, and Donald Byrd left off in the '70s. This music is a far cry from the self-absorbed European free jazz or academic noodling one is likely to meet at any given jazz festival; this music is earthy, like, say, Hendrix at Woodstock, or Davis's Live-Evil (1971) -- a pinnacle challenge of the past that has never met any really satisfying response from contemporary music. There's that unique sense of percussive drift that characterized Can's records in the first half of the '70s -- somehow extravagant, yet also subtle at the same time. The warmth of Ellis's sun-dried Rhodes and cosmic Moog-lines intertwine with Patrick Shiroishi's Coltrane-inspired soprano arabesques. Trevor Mast's thick basslines and a multitude of tribalistic percussion keep it together along with a naturalistic, crisp-sounding recording. It all adds up to a soulful tour de force of everything that's great about the San Diego scene. To be played loudly. File next to: Miles Davis, Tortoise, Marion Brown, Joe Henderson, Can, Donald Byrd. Brian Ellis: Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond L-122 organ, Wurlitzer electric Piano, Minimoog, Moog Subphatty; David Hurley: congas and percussion; Michael Hams: drums and percussion; Patrick Shiroishi: alto and soprano saxophones; Paul Marrone: drums, percussion, guitar; Trevor Mast: bass.