The Alliance for Improvised Music

PO Box 1633, Carrboro NC  27510




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Knowing that you're being heard, knowing that your call is being responded to, regardless of what the setting is, that's the whole point. – William Hooker


UPCOMING SHOWS – updated Oct 5, 2003


photo by Ashley Thayer


Thursday, October 16 – 8 pm, $12


Duke Power Studio, Durham Arts Council

120 Morris St, downtown Durham

(adjacent to the Carolina Theater)




  • Ellery Eskelin (tenor), Andrea Parkins (accordion, sampler), Jim Black (percussion)

I’m going to nominate this group, which has been together for about10 years now, as the best working band in jazz/improvised music.  Like earlier, long-lived groups (Coltrane’s quartet, Miles’ quintets, the Pullen-Adams quartet, Air, the Braxton quartet, Parker/Guy/Lytton, the Ware quartet to name a few), the familiarity of the musicians allows for an exceptional level of interaction and risk-taking while also creating a distinct and recognizable personality within the music.  This stability also allows Eskelin to craft compositions with this particular set of musicians in mind – compositions which are as likely to force the band into new, unexplored territory as they are to emphasize each player’s strengths.

Eskelin’s compositional style has been described as being in the “jump/cut” school, but this perhaps paints his work as being far more fragmented and herky-jerky than it is.  The jumps can come quickly or slowly, allowing the band to deeply explore different sections from night to night, while each section and improvisation remains focused on an overarching compositional goal.  In jazz and improvised music, composers always face a tension between “composed” and “improvised”.  Eskelin’s approach to this tension is simply one of many, but his challenging themes combined with this group’s outstanding playing have produced some of the most satisfying music of the last ten years.

Eskelin’s sound on tenor is deep and rich, drawing on mostly jazz influences both obvious (e.g. Coltrane) and maybe not so obvious (e.g. Gene Ammons).  But if you talk to him, he’s as likely to cite a painter or a film as an influence as he is a musician.  Andrea Parkins playing simply defies description (by me at least).  She works in larger blocks of sound, shading here and nudging there, providing the foundation for more frenetic improvisation.  Jim Black is just a wonderfully creative, musical, and fun drummer, drawing from whichever source seems best to fit the moment.

We hope you can come out and join us on October 16 for this great trio.  Their show here 6 years ago was named one of the top 3 shows of the year by both the Spectator and the News & Observer.  This one promises to be just as special

Additional Info

Ellery Eskelin’s website

Our 1997 online interview with Ellery




Welcome to the website of the Alliance for Improvised Music (AIM). Whether you’re a dedicated fan of avant-garde jazz and other forms of creative improvised music or you’re simply curious about such music, we think you’ll find plenty of interest on our site.

AIM is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing local awareness of improvised music, through presenting performances, running an e-mail list, and this website. We are based in the Triangle area of North Carolina.

There’s also plenty of interest here for fans from outside the Triangle, including interviews and articles and our ever-expanding links page.

If you’re a musician looking to book a show, please take a look at our booking info page. AIM is a small organization, dedicated to lesser-known musicians, and interested in presenting music in non-traditional venues. We occasionally work with larger arts organizations, but, in general, we only sponsor small-scale shows. When we present a show, all proceeds go to the artists.

So, welcome to the AIM website. Wander around through the pages and let us know what you think. Sign up with AIM (free of charge) and we’ll add you to our e-mail list so we can keep you updated on upcoming shows and other happenings. Thanks for stopping by.