A beautiful album that answers to no one, Escondido Dreams follows its own unique and winding path through countless contemporary strains of jazz. The group touches on gentle folk-inspired sounds that may owe thanks to Bill Frisell, bebop, spaced-out pointillist textures that recall Stockhausen and abstract melodic sensibilities inspired by serialism, noisy wah guitars that akin to the harmolodic sounds of of James Blood Ulmer, searing fusion leads that remind me of 80's players like Allan Holdsworth and all points beyond and inbetween. This is truly a grab bag of an album.
This trio of west coast guitar legend Tony Wilson, free-improv's leading lady of cello Peggy Lee and saxman Jon Bentley come together on Escondido Dreams for a magical combination of composition, improv and pure 'extended technique' noise.
From the disparate array of compositions and styles here it's clear that all members of the trio have contributed their fair share. It makes the album a constantly pleasurable series of surprises bound together by a loose set of themes - Wilson's almost Americana slide guitars, the aforementioned pointillist blips and bleeps on guitar and cello and recurring, humourous splashes of bebop color. These themes give the album something of a cinematic feel.
With their more delicate, and ‘pretty’ approach to free-improv, Wilson/Lee/Bentley has a distinct sound that will appeal to fans of both free-improv and the ever-growing contemporary third-stream scene. The group is exploratory enough to tickle the fancies of fans of the farthest-out sounds, and yet also please the more conservative jazz fans. Let's hope they tour - this must be an incredible trio to see live. Really nice stuff.