|Review courtesy of All About Jazz:
A trio of recordings put Marco Eneidi back on the creative music map this year. He never really left, but a lapse in recent albums prompted many to think he had. American Roadwork arrives as the last of the three, building on the brick and mortar of Paul Murphy’s Shadow-Intersections-West (Cadence Jazz) and Eneidi’s own Live at Spruce Street Forum (Botticelli). Sadly, it also comes on the heels of rumors that the embattled altoist intends to expatriate to Austria.
The disc’s evocative title reflects a myriad of possible meanings. It points directly to the heavy mileage logged by the trio on an exhaustive stateside tour just prior to the session and, perhaps more backhandedly, at the current shambles this nation finds itself in politically. A lot of repair work lies ahead and Eneidi’s alto zeros in like a beacon on the wreckage. His nostalgic roots in the Fire Music of the 60s reflect a righteous indignation at the reality that an artist can’t support himself doing what he loves and does so well.
Mirroring this frustration and melancholy, the program of music carries a potent aura of the blues. Traditional forms manifest in the trio’s circuitous rendering of “Baby Please Don’t Go”. More humoresque variants emerge with “Contractual Obligation Blues”, a condition Eneidi and his colleagues find solace from under the CIMP aegis, and “Shock and Awe Shucks”, a not-so-subtle dig at the current cornpone military strategy of this country. Both pieces prove that the band’s aesthetic isn’t all brow-furrowing gloom and grousing.
Bassist Lisle Ellis, Eneidi’s longtime foil, and drummer Peter Valsamis, a new name to me and probably others, shape a supportive harmonic and rhythmic web around Eneidi’s oft-woebegone horn. Ellis’ bass refuses to accept the wallflower status so often accorded strings by the temperamental Spirit Room acoustics. His ropy figures repeatedly sucker-punch their way into the foreground. Surprisingly, it’s Valsamis who frequently adopts the more responsive role, crafting akimbo shuffle beats that often follow the lead of Ellis’ incessant hummingbird throb.
Eneidi blows with his usual arid intensity and precision, threading a flattened vibrato through his lines with a recalcitrant cry always layered just beneath the surface. Moments of high melodicism are frequent, as during his nimble arabesque solo on “News Blues”. Here and elsewhere, Eneidi wears the jackrabbit mantle of Jimmy Lyons more prominently than on his other above-mentioned recent work.
Bittersweet in both cast and content, this disc serves as a substantial parting shot for Eneidi. America’s loss is Europe’s gain and hopefully his new locale will result in a fresh fount of resources for him to pursue his musical passions. Talent like his—and that of his compatriots—shouldn’t have to lie in wait for the means to circulate.