Jesse Stacken (p), Eivind Opsvik (b), Jeff Davis (d)
Bar code: 8427328423083
Declared a brilliant young pianist by All About Jazz, Jesse Stacken is one of the most exciting performers and composers emerging on todays jazz and creative music scene of New York. With his memorable compositions and personal piano style, Jesse brings welcomed elements of sincerity and honesty to audiences everywhere.
Since spring 2005, Jesse has led and composed music for the Jesse Stacken Trio which features bassist Eivind Opsvik, and drummer Jeff Davis, to record this album at Systems Two in Brooklyn. The set features all new compositions by Jesse as well as spontaneous compositions by the whole trio.
"On That That (Fresh Sound New Talent), his quietly restless new album, the pianist Jesse Stacken presents a program of all-original material; he also showcases his intuitive and slippery rapport with the bassist Eivind Opsvik and the drummer Jeff Davis, who rejoin him for this cd-release gig.
Nate Chinen -New York Times
"Ace pianist, Jesse Stacken, played here at DMG with Peter Van Huffel a few months back and just left us with copies of his fine debut disc.. The rhythm section also backs Jeff's wife Kris in her trio, as well as in that recent jazz tribute to Black Sabbath (!?!) called 'Rocket Engine.' Jesse composed all but two of the twelve pieces here with two group improvisations. I love how the trio erupts on the second piece, "Shady Oak," the dynamics and tension are bristling until Eivind takes a more contemplative bass solo and calms things down a bit. What amazes me is how tight this trio is and how they change direction, tempo and dynamics in mid-flow. In a blindfold test, you might just mistake them for Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams when they played for Miles. All but one of the pieces here are under five minutes, so the trio seems to compress their ideas into highly focused excursions. "Sad Sidewalk" is angelic, spacious, minimal and elegant without being too sweet. This trio has a way of being dramatic one minute and then simmering the next, reminding me of the way that life sometimes unfolds. On "North Shore," Jesse develops a couple of different themes as the trio hangs on to the powerful waves of his left hand while his right hand burns on top. Each piece here seems to tell a little story or set a different scene and each one is distinct. Jesse, again, works with a couple of different themes on "Ignored," one is Monk-like while circles around and expands upon that quirky stream. The way it builds into intense wave and then subsides is quite breathtaking. Without a doubt, one of the best piano dates we've heard so far this year."
Bruce Lee Gallanter -Downtown Music Gallery
"Jeff Davis and [Eivind] Opsvik are the rhythm team supporting pianist Jesse Stacken on That That. Stacken directs the trio's energy more through the often-fractured rhythmic abstractions of his piano work than through thematically-driven compositions though there are plenty of wonderful ones here; "Shady Oak", "Distractions" and "Ignored" are fine displays of his fluency with ambitious rhythmic structures. Nonetheless, the ear can't help but be drawn to extemporaneous invention that flows from Stacken's playing. Davis provides empathatic support, matching Stacken's knack for multiplicity with fluid time-keeping and colorful, lush cymbal work. As with opsvik's overseas project, this is an ensemble that has worked together for a while now. The energy ebbs and flows, displaying unity towards a common directions, even as fragments of tonalities and rhythmic fluidity are strewn throughout the sonic environment."
Wilbur MacKenzie -All About Jazz
"A piano trio led by Jesse Stacken - whose lyrical soul is evident since the very first chords that he articulates on the keyboard - and featuring an extremely competent bassist in Eivind Opsvik (from Norway) and a sensitive drummer named Jeff Davis. I dont remember of having ever met these artists before, yet enjoying their crystal-clear playing was a complete pleasure. Formed in 2005, the group performs a nice blend of jazz-oriented compositions where improvisational spurts and a very conscious interplay are fundamental cards. The defining element of this album is a kind of veiled elegance often bordering on melancholy, both attributes quite apparent behind the façade of a complex meter or amidst some dissonant dissertation. I was reminded of certain old ECM chapters still to be liked on these shores, such as the works by the John Abercrombie quartet circa M (of course minus the guitar); in fact, Stacken made me think of Richie Beirachs approach more than once. But, I stress, the whole trio is a treat for the ears, despite their choice of not overly trespassing the limits of well-conceived and executed architectural structures. Brilliant music that will surely keep good company for many evenings to come, without the pretence of being remembered as a milestone yet guaranteeing almost one hour of detachment from the preoccupations of technical contortionism."
Massimo Ricci -Touching Extremes
"Jesse Stacken, a pianist based in New York, has released a really interesting and enjoyable album entitled "That That," joined by Eivind Opsvik on bass and Jeff Davis on drums. Going in with no background on any of the musicians on the album, I was interested to hear what they had to offer. I get a lot of promos these days for a number of reasons, and I set the bar higher for reviewing randoms than I do music I'm familiar with.
One of the first things that struck me in listening to the album was the focused brevity of the tracks. The recorded medium used to provide mandatory constraints on the length of compositions and improvisations recorded in early jazz. By the time we get to the LP that has become less of a concern, and in the age of the CD we have Pat Metheny releasing The Way Up, a bloated 68 minute composition that seems to fill up space just because it can.
There's something to be said for restraint and constraints, and the impact that kind of focus has on musicians who are given a certain amount of time to put in their two cents. I'm all for coloring outside the lines, but it's not always what's called for by the music and the players, and the focus on this album is not only refreshing but is also works.
There's a great balance of improvised pieces and compositions on the album, and the improvisation that opens the affair was one of the things that drew me into the listening experience. The trio has tuned their rapport and achieve powerful states of improvisational flow as a result. I'm not sure if it's the length of the tracks or the way they flow together, but the whole listening experience goes by quickly and seamlessly.
Overall, a really impressive album from a musician who I was not familiar with but will certainly look out for in the future."
Dan Melnick -Soundslope
"Jesse Stacken, a person of exceptional talent who has been active on the NY music scene since 2002, is one of the remarkable young jazz pianists. This soulful CD celebrates the fruits of his labor with the trio, which was formed in 2004. The powerful rhythm section of the bassist Eivind Opsvik and the drummer Jeff Davis, creates dangerously dark and unique sound. Listening to the trio's sharp and thrilling interplay makes one's hand sweat. This is truly a very sensational CD.
Disk Union, Japan
"Refreshingly, a piano trio that gels perfectly in a way that doesn't recall grooving trendsetters such as EST. Instead Stacken's inside-outside playing is closer to Paul Bley's enigmatic tonal world. "
Selwyn Harris -Jazzwise magazine
"This may be the traditional piano-trio configuration, but pianist Jesse Stacken's music is as far from the Bill Evans/Vince Guaraldi archetype as New York City is from downtown Mars. Although the disc's title evokes the cryptic language of pianist Thelonious Monk, Stacken's aesthetic is much closer to the more manic side of Ethan Iverson. Stacken lacks Iverson & The Bad Plus' instinct to outrage jazz traditionalistsno blood-curdling covers of heavy metal rock tunes or iconic movie themes here. Instead, That That is a detailed observation of a single thought process, and a thought process is a volatile thing: there are distractions, obsessions, twists and turns from moment to moment, and the only consistent element is chaos. Stacken is volcanic one moment ("Shady Oak"), lost in mourning the next ("Sad Sidewalk"). That That is not pretty, but it is very real, and a real bone-shaker."
J. Hunter -All About Jazz, USA